• Marco Venosta
The Middle East is a region whose peacefulness and stability are always in doubt, and recent events such as the assassination of General Qassim Suleimani have once more brought it to the brink of a conflict. The ever-present unpredictability of the geopolitical situation within the most prolific oil extracting region in the world affects all the nations which acquire crude petroleum from it. Indeed, the energy security of countries all over the planet would suffer harshly in case a conflict broke out within the Persian Gulf region, due to their dependence on imports from it. Oil prices would likely skyrocket, and a disruption of the supply would not be a farfetched possibility either. The interests of several states are on the line, and countermeasures are likely to be taken.
This thesis, therefore, aimed at pointing out in which way the recurrent instability of the Gulf region is influencing the energy strategy of the nations which historically import high quantities of oil from them. China and Italy, two countries that historically rely strongly on the unstable geographical area for their energy needs, were chosen as case studies.
To answer the research question, the concepts of asymmetrical interdependence and geopolitical theory were applied to the data regarding the case studies’ energy strategy. They allowed the situation to be analysed from two different angles, and gave a more complete picture of the change, or lack thereof, in the Chinese and Italian national energy policies.
The application of the theories highlighted the different reaction of the two countries to the risk of their oil imports being disrupted once again: China was found to have both intensified its diversification of energy sources in order to reduce its dependence on the Gulf’s situation, and to have sped up the implementation of self-centered measures to protect the four A’s of its energy security (accessibility and affordability in particular). The Italian energy strategy, instead, was discovered to be only partially undergoing a process of diversification, thus showing a more limited change in its nature.
The analysis of the recent development of the two case studies’ energy strategy allowed to, therefore, conclude that the two nations are responding to the Persian Gulf’s instability in different ways, with China strongly pursuing diversification and protective measures, and Italy only implementing the former, incompletely.
Publication date2020


ID: 333219258