October 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the oil embargo launched by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after the Yom kippur War.
Just as the event sent shockwaves through the world economy in 1973, the rise of shale gas and tight oil in the US and elsewhere is now creating an impact of similar magnitude in the oil world.
Regimes across the Middle east and elsewhere have used their oil supplies as political tools. With the shale gas revolution, this approach is growing weaker.
The growth in global demand is such that a price collapse is unlikely, according to the International Energy Agency, so OPEC governments from Saudi Arabia to Algeria will not have the rug pulled out from under them.
But with their diplomatic muscle reduced, the power games in the region will change. Like at the end of the Cold War in Africa, it is hard to predict what will happen next. ●