Underground and Underwater: Oil Security in France and Britain during the Cold War

Abstract : In the first half of the Cold War several administrations in Western Europe sought to increase the amount of oil and gas that could be made available to their countries. These arrangements aimed to boost their national economies but they were also vital to energy security and molded the management of new discoveries and supplies of hydrocarbons at home and abroad. This paper focuses in particular on the plans outlined by the governments of two former imperial powers, France and Britain; their relationships with the superpowers; and those with neighboring partners and rivals. It shows how these administrations used different strategies of surveillance and diplomacy to gain and retain control of, and access to, strategically vital oil-rich areas, especially those in Algeria and in the North Sea. We conclude that geological exploration, and in particular oil prospecting, became another tool for nations long accustomed to intelligence gathering and surveying in the imperial context, to cater for their national energy security.
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Roberto Cantoni, Leucha Veneer. Underground and Underwater: Oil Security in France and Britain during the Cold War. The Surveillance Imperative. Geosciences during the Cold War and Beyond, 2014, 978-1-137-43874-4. ⟨hal-01264562⟩

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