International Handbook of Energy Security
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International Handbook of Energy Security

Edited by Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta

This Handbook brings together energy security experts to explore the implications of framing the energy debate in security terms, both in respect of the governance of energy systems and the practices associated with energy security.
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Chapter 1: The concept of energy security: broadening, deepening, transforming

Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta


Over the last decade the term energy security has gained relevance in political and academic debates. Framing energy as a security issue is not a new phenomenon. The last great debate on energy security dated back to the 1970s (Schultz 1973; Nye 1982) and it was prompted by the crises that followed the cut of oil supply by OPEC countries in 1973. As the price of oil quadrupled, triggering an economic crisis, the vulnerability of the energy system was fully exposed (Cherp and Jewell 2011, 203). Over the subsequent two decades, however, energy was considered more an economic than a security issue – at least in the main political and academic debates. A global liquid market (for oil) and relatively low fossil fuel prices have prioritized economic aspects, often ignoring the premises on which the energy market has developed, and in particular how its working is shaped by security considerations whose appropriateness is now being questioned. Several issues are behind the questioning and the renewed concerns and quests for energy security. Tight oil markets and volatile prices have created concern for an affordable and secure supply of energy. Several disruptions in gas supply determined by disputes between Russia and various Eastern European countries have evoked the spectre of an energy weapon and questioned the reliability of Russia. Similarly, the reliance on potentially, or historically ‘unstable’ areas of the world for oil supplies raises concern for energy independence in Western countries.

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