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Tom Kirkman

The Tyranny Index for the World’s Oil and Gas – Canadian Energy Centre

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An overview of some of the geopolitical aspects of international oil & gas.  Contains lots of documentation and links.

tl;dr takeaway: ever-more oil and gas production coming from Not Free countries

"In the context of debates over oil and gas extraction and exports, it should matter if countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia, Norway and other democracies ranked as Free are able to extract and export more oil and natural gas. Other issues beyond energy and the economy matter, including the environment. However, in a world where a greater share of oil and natural gas production is coming from autocracies, the security of supply and national interest matter in parallel to the economy and the environment. Production statistics are measured in this Fact Sheet for that reason and for consideration by policymakers and the public."


PDF of the Tyranny Index is attached at the bottom, along with a direct link to the PDF.  (That's my reflexive anon training drilled into my thinking over the last couple decades - provide dox and links, for others to look for themselves.)


The Tyranny Index for the World’s Oil and Gas – Canadian Energy Centre

Oil, natural gas, and freedom rankings

This fact sheet (which can be downloaded here as a pdf) examines worldwide oil and natural gas production and market share over four decades for countries in three categories: nations (or territories) that are Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. The freedom rankings are from Freedom House, a Washington D.C.-based think tank which has measured and ranked countries and territories by their degree of freedom since 1973. The data on oil and natural gas production are from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a U.S. government agency.

Tyrannies and energy production

The use of tyranny in the title of this Fact Sheet is a nod to the dictionary definition where one categorization of tyranny is ‘oppressive power’ and especially as ‘oppressive power exerted by government.’ In essence, “Not Free” and “tyranny”—while not always interchangeable—overlap enough for our purposes: to give readers a sense of where oil and natural gas production occurs and under what type of regime.

This matters for a variety of reasons. As the data show, there is a shift to higher proportions of oil and gas production in countries that are dictatorial and authoritarian. The result is that the money consumers pay for oil and natural gas is increasingly directed to Not Free regimes that can then use energy revenues to suppress their own people and/or where substantial revenues flow to regime leaders. This is the case in Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela among others.

Also, Not Free regimes can wield significant power over the supply of oil and natural gas exported to vulnerable populations. This occurred in 2009 when Russia cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine in mid-winter over a pricing dispute. In other instances, they can dramatically manipulate prices on the world market beyond what would occur in a normal economic “boom” or “bust.” On the latter, price manipulation, Saudi Arabia—a major oil producer where the government owns most of the dominant energy company (Saudi Aramco)—can influence the world oil market to an immediate degree not possible in countries that are Free, where multiple competing energy companies exist and where manipulation of prices in any direction is circumscribed by anti-collusion laws.

This state-directed dynamic was obvious in late February when Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry directed Saudi Aramco to significantly raise production and thus flood the world market with oil. The action was to ostensibly punish Russia for not decreasing its own production. The action contributed to a 73 per cent drop in the price of Western Canadian Select oil by March 2020 (compared with March 2019), as Saudi Arabia’s action occurred at the same time as demand destruction due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Affected governments in North America will see a dramatic decline in revenues as a result of the artificially-created drop in prices by two Not Free countries, i.e., Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Saudi Arabia has taken similar actions before, in 1986 and 2014. In each case, energy companies in democracies were severely disrupted to the point of economic extinction, as is again occurring in Canada and the United States. When an autocracy or dictatorship has significant leverage over a product, other countries dependent on that product can be severely and negatively impacted.

With that context, we examine comprehensive production data for petroleum and other liquids and dry natural gas (“oil” and “natural gas” for our purposes). We match up the data from the EIA and Freedom House to track whether the proportion of oil and natural gas controlled, directly or indirectly, by Not Free countries—such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela—is increasing or decreasing.  ...


     < much more information, documentation and graphs in the article >


Link to PDF:


Tyranny Index PDF attached:




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