Energy superpower

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An energy superpower is a country that supplies large amounts of energy resources (crude oil, natural gas, coal, etc.) to a significant number of other countries, and therefore has the potential to influence world markets for political or economic gains. Energy superpower status might be exercised, for example, by significantly influencing the price on global markets, or by withholding supplies. Most recently, the term "energy superpower" is increasingly used to characterize nations at the forefront of energy transition and the development of renewable energy resources.[1][2][3]

The term "energy superpower" lacks a precise scholarly definition and is primarily a political term. It is not a concept rooted in rigorous academic or scientific categorization but rather a label used in political discourse to describe countries that wield significant influence in the global energy landscape. This term is subject to interpretation and can be applied differently by various individuals or organizations, depending on their specific agendas or perspectives. As a result, the meaning and applicability of the term "energy superpower" may vary.

As of 2024, the United States is the world's leading producer of total energy, leading producer of petroleum, leading producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and leading exporter of LNG.[4][5]

Russia is widely recognized as an energy superpower.[6][7][8] Other nations that have, at different points in time, earned this designation include Saudi Arabia,[9] Canada,[10] Venezuela,[10] and Iran.[11][12]

Countries referred to as energy superpowers[edit]


Countries dependent on Russian natural gas for domestic consumption (2006)

The discourses surrounding Russia's energy wealth play a crucial role in Vladimir Putin's attempts to restore Russia's great power status. Some scholars have noted that, although Putin may avoid explicitly using the term "superpower," the idea of Russia as an energy superpower is an integral part of the ideology developed by his regime.[13][14][15] This idea emphasizes Russia's significant role in the global energy landscape and frames it as a key player in international politics. However, Russia's status of energy superpower and the strategic implications it carries have been called into question by many experts. As Vladimir Milov, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says:

The "energy superpower" concept is an illusion with no basis in reality. Perhaps most dangerously, it doesn’t recognize the mutual dependence between Russia and energy consumers. Because of political conflicts and declining production, future supply disruptions to Europe are likely. As a result, European gas companies may likely someday demand elimination of the take-or-pay conditions in their Russian contracts. This would threaten Gazprom’s ability to borrow. Putin’s attempt to use energy to increase Russian influence could backfire in the long run.[16]

Vladimir Mau, Aleksei Kudrin, German Gref, and many other Russian economists compare Russia’s dependence on energy exports with a severe drug addiction and even use the “sitting on the oil needle” metaphor to describe Russia’s economic development in the 2000s and the 2010s.[13]


In the mid-2010s, former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, asserted that Canada should be considered an energy superpower. By advertising Canada as an oil supplier on the international level, Harper defined it as a “reliable producer in a volatile unpredictable world” who can offer its oil-thirsty partners “a transparent regulatory system and a commitment to open markets”.[17] This viewpoint found support among conservative political activists and public intellectuals, such as Ezra Levant, the author of Ethical Oil (2011). However, scholars,[18][19][20][21] Indigenous peoples' organisations and activists,[22] and environmental activists, including such prominent Canadian environmentalists as Andrew Nikiforuk[23] and David Suzuki,[24][25] contested representations of Canada as an energy superpower. These critics raised concerns about the environmental impact of Canada's oil sands (e.g., tailing ponds, air pollution and deforestation) in the context of climate change, as well as socio-economic factors such as the potential repercussions on local communities, the equitable distribution of economic benefits, and the overall social implications of prioritizing the oil industry.


In the 2000s, Venezuela was widely described as a new energy superpower. For example, Manik Talwani, a geophysicist at Rice University, argued in 2007 that Venezuela will likely to join Saudi Arabia in attaining the status of energy superpower.[10] Citing its enormous potential reserves (1.2 trillion potential barrels), Talwani claimed that Venezuela will become an energy superpower in the next few decades as oil production declines elsewhere. However, Venezuela's descent into economic and political chaos has become a cautionary tale about the complexities of managing resource wealth in developing countries. The country's situation serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and potential pitfalls associated with overreliance on natural resources, particularly oil, for economic development.[26][27]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

As a leading producer and exporter of crude oil, Saudi Arabia has substantial influence over the global oil market and has been labeled as an energy superpower. The country has the capacity to produce and export significant volumes of crude oil, making it a linchpin in the global oil supply chain. Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), an intergovernmental organization that plays a central role in setting oil production and pricing policies. As a leading OPEC member, Saudi Arabia has the ability to influence oil production quotas, which directly affects global oil prices.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jericho, Greg (19 Oct 2023). "Australia is already an energy superpower. We should be using that to drive the world towards renewables". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Araya, Daniel (November 27, 2018). "China's Belt and Road Initiative is poised to transform the clean energy industry". The Brookings Institution.
  3. ^ Butler, Nick (September 21, 2014). "China: the world's energy superpower". Financial Times.
  4. ^ Williams, Curtis (January 3, 2024). "US was top LNG exporter in 2023 as hit record levels". Reuters.
  5. ^ Sharma, Gaurav. "As 2024 Approaches U.S. Leads Global Crude Oil Production". Forbes. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  6. ^ "'Russia Won't Act Like an Energy Superpower': Making Promises that Can't Be Kept". Global Events Magazine. 2006-09-15. Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2012-02-05.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ "The Future of Russia as an Energy Superpower". Harvard University Press. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  8. ^ "How Russia's energy superpower status can bring supersecurity and superstability. Interview with Leonid Grigoriev". Civil G8. 2006. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
  9. ^ "Saudi Arabia's first step towards clean energy technologies". UNDP. Archived from the original on 2012-05-28. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
  10. ^ a b c Canada: The next oil superpower? Archived 2007-02-06 at the Wayback Machine, by Manik Talwani. The New York Times 2003
  11. ^ Energy and the Iranian economy: hearing. DIANE. 2006-07-25. ISBN 9781422320945. Retrieved 2014-06-11. {{cite book}}: Unknown parameter |agency= ignored (help)
  12. ^ Balamir Coşkun, Bezen (Winter 2009). "Global Energy Geopolitics and Iran" (PDF). Uluslararası İlişkiler. 5 (20). International Relations Council of Turkey: 179–201. Archived from the original on April 1, 2014.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  13. ^ a b Kuteleva, Anna (2020). "Discursive Politics of Energy in EU–Russia Relations: Russia as an "Energy Superpower" and a "Raw-Material Appendage"". Problems of Post-Communism. 67 (1): 78–92. doi:10.1080/10758216.2018.1520601. S2CID 158115925.
  14. ^ Baev, Pavel (2007). "Russia Aspires to the Status of 'Energy Superpower'". Strategic Analysis. 31 (3): 447–465. doi:10.1080/09700160701415735. S2CID 154245608.
  15. ^ Bouzarovski, Stefan; Bassin, Mark (2011). "Energy and Identity: Imagining Russia as a Hydrocarbon Superpower". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 101 (4): 783–794. doi:10.1080/00045608.2011.567942. S2CID 143061534.
  16. ^ "How Sustainable is Russia's Future as an Energy Superpower?". Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  17. ^ Harper, Stephen. Address by the Prime Minister at the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce. London, UK, 2006, July 14.
  18. ^ Kuteleva, Anna; Leifso, Justin (2020). "Contested crude: Multiscalar identities, conflicting discourses, and narratives of oil production in Canada". Energy Research & Social Science. 70. Bibcode:2020ERSS...7001672K. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2020.101672. S2CID 224926983.
  19. ^ Adkin, Laurie (2017). "Crossroads in Alberta: climate capitalism or ecological democracy". Socialist Studies/ Études Socialistes. 12 (1): 2–31. doi:10.18740/S4BP7H.
  20. ^ Laxer, Gordon (2015). After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians. D&M Publishers. ISBN 9781771621007.
  21. ^ Spiegel, Samuel J. (2021). "Fossil fuel violence and visual practices on Indigenous land: Watching, witnessing and resisting settler-colonial injustices". Energy Research & Social Science. 79. Bibcode:2021ERSS...7902189S. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2021.102189. hdl:20.500.11820/9b5ef9c3-31e7-4a8f-8216-2648da198788.
  22. ^ Preston, Jen (2013). "Neoliberal settler colonialism, Canada and the tar sands". Race & Class. 55 (2): 42–59. doi:10.1177/0306396813497877. S2CID 145726008.
  23. ^ Nikiforuk, Andrew (2009). Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. Vancouver: Greystone Books Ltd. ISBN 9781553655558.
  24. ^ "Consider a national energy plan for Canada". 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2023-11-17.
  25. ^ "Does Selling off Our Resources Make Us an Energy Superpower?". HuffPost. 2013-03-27. Retrieved 2023-11-17.
  26. ^ Cheatham, Amelia; Roy, Diana; Cara Labrador, Rocio (March 10, 2023). "Venezuela: The Rise and Fall of a Petrostate". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  27. ^ Bull, Benedicte; Rosales, Antulio (2020). "The crisis in Venezuela: Drivers, transitions, and pathways". European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies/Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe. 109 (109): 1–20. doi:10.32992/erlacs.10587. hdl:10852/84388.