“winter is coming.” This is the rotten warning that comes again and again from Russia, in a threatening tone, in response to the sanctions imposed to stop the Russian war machine that advanced, on February 24, through neighboring Ukraine. And when war power proves ineffective on the ground, energy blackmail becomes Moscow’s main trump card to weaken the West’s strong support for the Kyiv government. Efforts to cut off the sources of financing that fuel Putin’s imperial ambitions have led the Kremlin to shut off the gas tap to Europe.
The situation becomes even more alarming when one realizes that the European Union controls only 0.2% of the world’s natural gas reserves and that the largest reserves are in the hands of authoritarian regimes. According to the data of the 70th edition of the “BP Statistical Review of World Energy” report, at the end of 2020, Russia is the country with the largest natural gas reserves, amounting to 37.4 trillion cubic meters, which is 19.9%. of the global total. Iran comes in second with 32.1 trillion cubic meters (17.1% of the total gas available on the planet). It is followed by Qatar with reserves of 24.7 trillion cubic meters, Turkmenistan 13.6, the United States 12.6, China 8.4, Venezuela 6.3, Saudi Arabia 6, the UAE 5.9, and Nigeria 5.5.
These are the ten countries with the largest reserves of natural gas, seven of which are under the yoke of totalitarian political regimes, where democracy is a rare commodity. This is evidenced in the “Democracy Index 2021”, prepared by “The Economist” magazine, which places Russia, Iran, Qatar, Turkmenistan, China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the list of authoritarian regimes. Nigeria has been labeled a “hybrid regime” and only the United States is considered a “flawed democracy”.
Looking at the regions where the largest reserves of natural gas are concentrated, the Middle East stands out with 40.3% of the total, the Commonwealth of Independent States – consisting of 11 countries of the former Soviet Union – with 30.1%, Asia and Oceania with 8.8%, North America 8.1%, Africa 6.9%, South America 4.2% and Europe the remaining 1.7%.
Another harmful effect of the war in Ukraine is the rise in fuel prices, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day from November, which could further inflate prices. the prices . And again, it will be the countries with the largest oil reserves that will benefit from this situation.
In that list, according to data from the “OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin”, referring to 2019, Venezuela comes out on top with reserves of 303.8 billion barrels, followed by Saudi Arabia with 258.6 billion barrels, above the 208.6 billion barrels that Iran can do. Extraction from its underground deposits. Iraq already has proven reserves of 145 billion barrels of oil, Kuwait has 101 billion barrels, and the United Arab Emirates has 97.8 billion barrels. In terms of “black gold” reserves, Russia poses itself as the seventh major power (80 billion barrels), which is significantly higher than the 52.6 billion that are in the hands of the United States. Libya and Nigeria completed the top ten with 48.3 billion and 36.8 billion, respectively. As with natural gas, the largest reserves of crude are also found in countries controlled by authoritarian regimes, namely Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Libya.
According to the International Energy Agency, 99.7 million barrels per day are consumed and the United States accounts for one-fifth of this amount (20.48 million barrels per day), and is the country most dependent on oil. China and India are other oil-dependent giants, with daily consumptions of 13.07 million barrels and 4.84 million barrels, respectively. With Russia being the second largest oil exporter – only surpassed by Saudi Arabia – 48 countries filled Russia’s coffers with $123 billion in 2019. That year, China was responsible for 27% of Russia’s oil exports, a volume so steep that it led to A $34 billion bill. The weight of Russian oil is more significant in Belarus, Cuba, Kazakhstan and Latvia, where 99% of the crude oil imported by these countries comes precisely from Russia.
Given the rampant increase in inflation, gold reserves are a guarantee to protect financial power and stop the loss of purchasing power. And if the natural gas and oil monopolies are under the control of authoritarian regimes, then gold is more democratic, as the data of the “World Gold Council” for the year 2020.
The country with the largest gold reserves is, by far, the United States, which has accumulated 8,100 tons, twice the second largest Germany (3,360 tons). Italy comes in third place with 2.45 thousand tons, and fourth place is France (2.43 thousand), followed by Russia (2.29 thousand) and China (1.94 thousand). Of the ten largest gold reserves, it can be concluded that seven are run by democratic governments, one (Turkey) is controlled by a “hybrid system” and only two (China and Russia) are available to authoritarian regimes.
In this list, Portugal appears in the thirteenth place among the largest gold reserves in the world and is the fifth member state of the European Union with the largest amount of accumulated gold, with 383 tons, ahead of the United Kingdom with 310 tons, and Spain with 282 tons. Language, Portugal is also much higher than it, since it is necessary to go down to 43rd place to find Brazil, with a gold reserve of about 67.4 tons, while Mozambique occupies 89th place, with only 3.9 tons.
Here is a picture of a world that is a mine of various riches, but the poor distribution of resources also makes it a minefield.
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