The Global Oil System and the Middle East | U. Michigan | MENAS491 | RCSocSci461 | GeoScience496 | Fall 2005
Class Home Page for MENAS 491, RCSocSci 461, GeoSci 496

The Global Oil System and the Middle East
The University of Michigan
Fall 2005

Center for Middle East and North African Studies | The Residential College | Geological Sciences

Credit:  3.0
Course number: MENAS 491, RCSocSci 461, GeoSci 496
Time:  Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00 - 11:30
Place:  Residential College, Room 126 East Quad; 701 E. University St.
Instructor:  Tom O'Donnell
  Home Page: CV & courses
  Office: 6 Tyler, RC
  Office Hours:   Wed. 10:00 - 11:00+ AM

You are visitor: 
SITE INDEX Last update
SYLLABUS 01sep05
Class description 01sep05
Required text & books 01sep05
Grading 01sep05
Exam 1 01sep05
Invited speakers 01sep05
Films & videos 01sep05
Weekly topic pattern 01sep05
Bibliography 01sep05

Assignments (clik here)

Student research BLOGS:
Class E-mail Archive

Click here for the SYLLABUS

Course description:

This is a course on the global political-economy of oil and its connection and basis in the Middle East and North African oil-producing states. We first examine the facts about global oil resources and infrastructures, including reserves, demand, productive capacity, depletion rates, price history, and the persistence of oil as the basis of transportation everywhere.

From this basis, we explore the international oil system, including the oil-producing nations' OPEC cartel, and the First-World consumers' International Energy Agency (IEA) cartel; the special role of IEA members' strategic oil reserves; of Saudi Arabia as an "oil-price swing state"; and the roles of Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the UAE, as well as, to a leser extent, that of Russia, the Caspian Basin, and of Latin American and African producers.

We then examine the phases of US global oil strategy since WWII and the issue of US predominant influence (hegemony) in the oil system, and the construction and reconstruction of American hegemony in MENA states, and especially the Persian Gulf. This includes the period after the 1973 embargo, the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraq-sanctions regime, and the occupation of Iraq, followed by OPEC joining with the US-IEA to form the "Permanent Secretariat" of the International Energy Forum-a major step in energy globalization.

We examine the emerging crises in the global oil system, including China's exploding oil demand which threatens cheap oil and its addictive hold over the oil-poor EU, Japan, and China. We see how the Cheney Energy Plan is pressing all oil-producing nations to accept large private investments to expand production, for transparency, and to establish a new level of global market-control institutions.

We end by soberly examining the consequences of the current global oil system for fighting global warming, and for retarding transportation-infrastructure modernization within the US and its main economic rivals-increasingly oil- and automobile-addicted consuming states which lack domestic oil supplies-the EU Japan, India and China.

- Requirements: readings, seminar participation, research groups, research paper.

NOTE: Books are all available at
Shamann Drum Books, State Street just north of North University St., second floor.

Required text and books Author Cited herein as Comments
Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil
, Norton, NY, 2004.
David Goodstein [Goodstein04] Author is professor of physics, and Vice Provost of Cal Tech.
Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, Princeton, Princeton NJ, 2001. Kenneth S. Deffeyes [Deffeyes01] Author is emeritus professor of oil geology at Princeton U., was an associate of M. King Hubbert at Shell Oil in Huston in 1950-60s.
Resource Wars: The New Landscape of global Conflict, Owl Books, NY, 2002 (earlier hardcover by Metropolitan Books, 2001) Michael T. Klare [Klare02] 2002 edition has new Introduction by author. Author is director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.
Blood and Oil : The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (The American Empire Project), Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt Co., 2004) Michael T. Klare [Klare04] Author is director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.
The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power,1993, 1991 Daniel Yergan [Yergan93] Author is president of Cambridge Energy Associates, Cambridge, Mass. An eight-part PBS mini-series based on this book was made in 1992.
America's Oil Wars, 2004 Stephen Pelletiere [Pellet04] Author is former chief CIA analyist during Iran-Iraq War, and taught at U.S. Army War College 1998-2000.


Activity Points
Research teams and research e-logs (blogs)  13
Class participation & prep  33
Midterm  20
Research paper (& possible final presentation)  33
Total: 100
Link to UM Academic Calendar:
Calendar for this course:

Go to: Invited speakers, class tours, demonstrations, films and videos ...

Speaker Topic Date
See syllabus for speaker list

Video Topic, reference Date
Hudson Institute, Conference: "Saudi Arabia in Crisis" 09jul04 "The Implications of Saudi Arabian Oil Declining," talk by by Matthew R. Simmons, oil industry financial analyst, Simmons & Company International. C_SPAN video link T.B.A.
2005 Left Forum; at City College of NY (CUNY) Graduate Faculty, NYC. Feb05 "Geo-Politics of Oil," Panel with T. O'Donnell, Michael Klare & Michael Tanzier; organized by Union for Radical Political Economy. video recording T.B.A.

II. Syllabus <- click here for syllabus