16 October 2014

“Energy Nationalism Goes to Sea in Asia,” in NBR’s Energy Security and the Asia-Pacific: Course Reader

Gabriel B. Collins and Andrew S. Erickson, “Energy Nationalism Goes to Sea in Asia,” in Mikkal E. Herberg, ed., Energy Security and the Asia-Pacific: Course Reader (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, October 2014).

The Asia-Pacific is now the center of growth in global energy and commodity demand. Driven by rapid and sustained economic development across the region, this shift has triggered important changes in global energy flows. It has also posed major new energy security challenges for Asian governments and fundamentally altered the geopolitics of global energy. This special collection of essays from leading experts in the field, selected from previous NBR publications, provides students with a strong foundation for understanding the trends and challenges shaping the energy security outlook for the Asia-Pacific and the world.

Free Sample Chapter

“Asia’s New Role in Global Energy Security”
by John V. Mitchell

Read the introduction “Energy Security and the Asia-Pacific” by editor Mikkal E. Herberg. 

Table of Contents 


Energy Security and the Asia-Pacific

Mikkal E. Herberg

Geopolitics and Energy Security

Chapter 1

The Rise of Energy and Resource Nationalism in Asia

Mikkal E. Herberg

Chapter 2

Asia’s New Role in Global Energy Security

John V. Mitchell

Chapter 3

The New Geography of Asian LNG

Nikos Tsafos

Chapter 4

The Implications of Expanded Nuclear Energy in Asia

Charles D. Ferguson

Chapter 5

Oil and Gas Pipelines: Prospects and Problems

Paul Stevens

Country Studies

Chapter 6

“Going Out”: China’s Pursuit of Natural Resources and Implications for the PRC’s Grand Strategy

Aaron L. Friedberg

Chapter 7

The Roots of Chinese Oil Investment Abroad

Trevor Houser

Chapter 8

China’s Coming Decade of Natural Gas

Damien Ma

Chapter 9

Japan’s Response to Its New Energy Security Challenges

Tsutomu Toichi

Chapter 10

Asia’s Post-Fukushima Market for Liquefied Natural Gas: A Special Focus on Japan

Tomoko Hosoe

Chapter 11

The Geopolitics of Northeast Asia’s Pipeline Development

Shoichi Itoh

Chapter 12

Russian LNG Exports to Asia: Current Status and Future Prospects

Michael Bradshaw

Regional Studies

Chapter 13

Energy Nationalism Goes to Sea in Asia

Gabe Collins and Andrew S. Erickson

Chapter 14

Prospects for India’s Energy and Geopolitical Roles in the Middle East

Sumit Ganguly and Manjeet S. Pardesi

Chapter 15

The Geopolitics of the Myanmar-China Oil and Gas Pipelines

Bo Kong

U.S. Implications

Chapter 16

China’s Search for Energy Security: Implications for U.S. Policy

Kenneth Lieberthal and Mikkal E. Herberg

Chapter 17

How the Shale Revolution Will Transform U.S. Policy

Amy Myers Jaffe

Chapter 18

The U.S.-Canada Energy Relationship and the Growing Role for Asia

James Slutz

INTRODUCTION: Energy Security and the Asia-Pacific

Mikkal E. Herberg

Mikkal E. Herberg is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California–San Diego and Research Director of the Energy Security Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Over the past fifteen years, Asia has increasingly become “ground zero” for growth in global energy and commodity demand, as rapid and sustained economic development has driven the need for more energy. Demand has been centered in China but extends across developing Asia and India, with a pace and scale that has been stunning. Having accounted for only 28% of base-load global energy consumption in 2000, the region accounted for 76% of the entire increase in world energy demand over 2000–2013. During that period, while energy demand worldwide grew by 36%, China’s energy demand tripled, India’s doubled, and Asia’s as a whole doubled. China and India together accounted for two-thirds of global energy demand growth, and Chinese demand growth was equivalent to creating the energy demand of two Latin Americas. With respect to oil specifically, while Asia accounted for just 28% of total world oil demand in 2000, it accounted for 66% of demand growth in 2000–2013. China alone accounted for 42% of growth, as Chinese oil demand quadrupled from 1990 to 2012. Over that period, oil consumption in Asia overall more than doubled.

This profound shift in energy consumption patterns has triggered huge changes in global energy flows, posed major new energy policy and security challenges for Asian governments, and fundamentally altered the geopolitics of global energy. This course reader collects essays from the National Bureau of Asian Research’s Energy Security Program, Strategic Asia Program, and Asia Policy journal that address a wide range of these changes and the resulting challenges for Asia. …


Gabriel B. Collins and Andrew S. Erickson, “Energy Nationalism Goes to Sea in Asia,” in Gabriel B. Collins, Andrew S. Erickson, Yufan Hao, Mikkal E. Herberg, Llewelyn Hughes, Weihua Liu, and Jane Nakano, Asia’s Rising Energy and Resource Nationalism: Implications for the United States, China, and the Asia-Pacific Region, NBR Special Report #31 (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, September 2011), 15-28.

From Mikkal E. Herberg, “Introduction: Asia’s Rising Energy and Resource Nationalism,” 4-5:

Andrew S. Erickson from the U.S. Naval War College and Gabe Collins from China SignPost provide an excellent discussion of the growth in maritime oil and gas transit flows from the Persian Gulf and Africa through the sea lanes of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean to China and the rest of Asia. They highlight how energy demand and transit have become important new drivers for naval expansion and rivalry in the region’s sea lanes. Energy security has two important impacts on the South China Sea region. The first is that the potential for large oil and gas resources under the sea bed is adding fuel to already serious disagreements over competing sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. The second issue is that as China’s dependence on oil imports rises dramatically, Beijing is increasingly uncomfortable with the U.S. Navy controlling regional sea lanes. Evidence suggests that this discomfort is a key factor in motivating China’s naval modernization and growing capabilities, which are in turn driving naval expansion by other regional powers and presenting new challenges for U.S. naval strategy.


This essay argues that concerns about securing offshore energy production and the sea lanes used to import oil and liquefied natural gas are motivating naval modernization in the Asia-Pacific and creating associated security risks for the entire region.

Main Argument

Maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region have historically stemmed from unsettled territorial and maritime claims. In the past decade, however, concerns over maritime energy security have increasingly inflamed these disputes. Rising energy prices, fears of supply scarcity, and rapid increases in oil-import dependency in China and other regional powers such as Indonesia have helped drive resource nationalism among regional governments. Such nationalism incentivizes states to build naval forces capable of deterring rival claimants in potentially resource-rich areas, as well as in some cases threats to major maritime energy transport corridors. As energy security becomes a more important driver of regional arms procurement, it is critically important for states to understand that the high-probability threats to maritime energy security are nonstate threats that are best addressed cooperatively.

Policy Implications

  • Extreme weather, seismic activity, and nonstate threats such as terrorism are the highest- probability threats to maritime energy security in the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, policies based on cooperation will be the most effective in enhancing regional energy security.
  • Greater cooperation can also help change regional perceptions in ways that substantially reduce the chance of armed conflict between states, which is the lowest-probability threat, but the one with the highest potential impact on maritime energy security.
  • Regional civil maritime organizations offer a more effective and less-politicized vehicle for engagement than navies do. Major energy producers and consumers can also work to increase “maritime domain awareness” by integrating information on key energy assets and the locations of weather, piracy, and terrorist threats along major sea lanes and production areas. The system could also include a joint pirate threat database to plot locations of attacks and anticipate future trouble spots by analyzing patterns of pirate behavior.

Asian countries with offshore energy production interests in disputed areas should consider creating joint development zones.