Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The Year OPEC Shut Off Oil To The U.S.
The 1973 oil crisis began on October 17, 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced, as a result of the ongoing Yom Kippur War, that they would no longer ship oil to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria, Egypt, and Iraq (the United States, its allies in Western Europe, and Japan).
At the same time, OPEC members agreed to use their leverage over the world price-setting mechanism for oil in order to raise world oil prices, after the failure of negotiations with the "Seven Sisters" earlier in the month. Because of the dependence of the industrialized world on crude oil and the predominant role of OPEC as a global supplier, these price increases were dramatically inflationary to the economies of the targeted countries, while at the same time suppressive of economic activity. The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency.
Growing fears about eventual Western energy independence, various security threats, and the absence of a Western rival in the geo-political competition over the Middle-East led the Arab states in a more dependent relationship with the West. This is most explicit in Saudi Arabia's consistent policy of price and production moderation in an effort to reduce the chances of Western alienation and the opportunity costs for alternative energy production.The exchange for Western moderation in Arab-Israeli affairs ultimately led to a reshaping of the Middle-Eastern geo-political landscape that was significantly less advantageous than prior to 1973.