Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2010

Energy Security An Agenda for Research

Michael A. Levi

June 2010

Council on Foreign Relations


U.S. policymakers talk more today about energy security than they have at any time since the energy crises of the 1970s. Yet scholarly understanding of the challenges at the intersection of energy and national security, and of the various policy tools available to address them, is surprisingly weak. On April 12–13, 2010, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) convened a group of thirty-six scholars and practitioners to assess the current state of knowledge about oil, gas, and national security, and to identify those areas where research was most needed.1 Participants included experts from academia, industry, government, and international institutions, and brought backgrounds in economics, political science, international relations, science, engineering, and law to the discussion. This report is divided into sections that mirror the format of the workshop, and it highlights research needs that emerged from the discussions. The discussions were split into sessions that assessed the problem (the first four sections of this report) and sessions that explored policy options (the following four sections). While the workshop discussions have been supplemented by a light literature review, the vast bulk of the burden of identifying research needs was borne by the workshop participants. Scholars and practitioners are encouraged to contact the author if they believe that any of the issues identified here are better understood than this report suggests.