Who sells oil to the UK?
- March 20, 2019
- 2844 views
Much of modern political discussion is dominated by the increasing threat posed by climate change - though advocates of green politics would suggest that these issues do not feature heavily enough and the need for real action is still mostly ignored. A lot of this discussion focuses, rightly, on the need for a transition in the way we generate energy to cleaner, greener, renewable resources such as wind and solar power, and away from gas, coal, and oil.
Energy is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, with the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity pumping catastrophic amounts of hugely damaging greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, clogging up the atmosphere, amplifying the sun’’s light and trapping heat in. And, in recent years, with climate change sceptic governments taking office in a number of countries, the contribution of the energy industry to this phenomenon is increasing.
Talking about where we get our energy from, and the damage that is done in the process of producing it, is therefore extremely important. But it is not just about the resources that we use to create electricity, and the repercussions of that, that matter. Whilst that is the primary environmental issue - and the number one priority in this debate - we should also consider about where we get our natural resources and fuel from.
Just like most other things in modern society, the trade of resources has become massively globalised, and has become a key staple in trading relationships. And like any trading relationship, this has huge geo-political and foreign policy consequences. In fact, the trade of natural resources such as oil has more of an impact because of how much we rely on these to keep our society running.
Britain, whilst producing some of its own oil in the North Sea, gets most of its petroleum from foreign partners and is now as dependent today on oil imports as in the 1970s, before the peak of North Sea oil production in the 90s. This can have massive impact on what countries the British Government are and aren’t willing to work with, denounce and criticise, or even, in the most extreme circumstances, go to war with. An informed electorate should therefore know, at least a snapshot of, where Britain’s oil is coming from.
Where does British oil come from?
Some of the countries that send us oil might not surprise you, such as those that are widely known as huge oil producers and suppliers. Russia, for instance, sent us $2.05 billion worth of oil in 2017, representing 28% of trade with the country, making it the Russian good most imported into Britain. Likewise, oil dominates UK-Saudi trade with crude and refined petroleum representing 77% of Saudi Arabia’s exports to Britain in 2017 between them.
Other major oil suppliers are far more surprising, and much less talked about, however. You might be surprised to the learn that the biggest export from Angola and Nigeria to Britain is crude petroleum, and that the biggest export from Turkmenistan to Britain is refined petroleum. That represents $1.7 billion dollars of oil exports altogether, which isn’t a lot way off of what Russia sends to Britain.