Risk and Interdependency: West German Foreign Energy Policy and the Third World

By Dr. Nick Ostrum

When: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 12:30 - 2:00 PM
Where: International Center, Seminar Room 112

This talk will examine how foreign, trade, and energy policy overlapped in West Germany’s relations with critical petroleum producers in the Third World. Lacking significant domestic petroleum sources and direct access to those abroad, the Federal Republic was still able to achieve energy security – consistent, predictable, and affordable access to energy resources – by navigating and manipulating an expanding system of economic interdependencies. A prime case is Libya, a country who accounted for upwards of 45 percent of German crude oil imports at its 1969. How did Libya instrumentalize this trade to its own advantage as it cut production, raised prices and, in the chaos of the 1973 oil crisis, demanded increasingly radical concessions from West Germany? How did Bonn reflexively push back against such pressures and risks and, ultimately, forge a more secure system of international energy supplies? After addressing these questions, this talk will reflect on how this paradigm of reflexive dependency can be applied to other important nodes in Germany’s hydrocarbon supply network.

Nick Ostrum is a historian currently teaching at the University of New Orleans and Clark State Community College. He received his PhD in History from Stony Brook University in 2017. He is currently serving on the Research Editorial Committee and has written reviews and articles for the online publication EuropeNow. His most recent publication is a chapter titled “’Which Germany Do You Come From?’: Contending German Legacies and Trade in Postcolonial Libya” in the forthcoming After the Imperialist Imagination: 25 Years of Research on Global Germany and its Legacies (expected 2019). His research has received generous support from the Council for European Studies, the German Historical Institute, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, and Stony Brook University.