Davide Ghermandi | University of Bologna

Middle Powers, Energy Security and Naval Forces

How to reach a comprehensive energy security has always been a vexata quaestio among developed economies especially after the dramatic events of 1973 and the oil crisis that followed. At the same time in states where navies have a long history, the naval instrument has always provided to top government decision-makers a flexible tool to pursue their foreign policy goals around the world, energy security included.

The aim of the research project is to understand the correlation between the energy dependence of a state from foreign supplies by sea and the use that this state does of its naval forces in order to secure them. In this attempt comparative case studies of so called “middle powers” with a rate of dependence from foreign energy supplies higher than a specific threshold will be used, studying their type of naval operations and examining some quantitative and qualitative data as well (such as military-navy expenditure as a percentage of GDP, size and type of the navy, membership to military alliances, foreign policy, naval bases abroad, military cooperation – and in particular naval cooperation – with  other countries, especially energy producers, etc.).

Furthermore, a wider perspective on the issue will be provided analysing some quantitative data of a larger sample of states, looking for connections between energy dependence and naval forces.

The final aim is to answer the research questions on “why” and “how” the naval instrument is important as a foreign policy means to secure and protect the essential energy supplies from abroad, highlighting the theoretical link between energy security and naval power.