geopolitical impacts


russia and oil


iran and oil


environmental impacts




  1. Plot information about the top ten worst oil spills onto this world map

alberta tar sands, canada



Fracking in the USA has increased oil production dramatically. In order to distribute this oil, transport has moved to land, in particular, by rail. Transport of oil by rail in the USA has increased 4000% in the last five years. This has led to a number of accidents with environmental consequences.

Watch the video on the right and note the mian points about how changing trends in oil production are having environmental consequences in the USA.




The Keystone Pipeline System is an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States, commissioned since 2010.

It runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas, and also to oil tank farms and oil pipeline distribution centre in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The US is currently trying to pass an extension to the pipeline to increase transport of oil, called Keystone XL. 

Different environmental groups, citizens, and politicians have raised concerns about the potential negative impacts of the Keystone XL project. The main issues are the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, and 17% higher greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of oil sands compared to extraction of conventional oil. [Source]




CO2 emissions vs CO2 in the atmosphere

CO2 emissions vs CO2 in the atmosphere



Explain two geopolitical impacts of the rise in global oil consumption since 1990. [4 marks]


Mark Scheme

The increase in global consumption has led to geopolitical pressures in some parts of the world as oil-hungry countries seek additional supplies of oil to meet their anticipated future demand.

It has increased tensions in parts of the Middle East since that area has the world’s largest oil reserves to which oil-importing countries such as the US want to preserve their access.

Equally, it has led to growing international tension over likely sources of oil, such as those in the Arctic, Sudan and South China Sea, that are currently not exploited.

On the other hand, the rise in consumption has led to higher prices for oil, leading to more investment in non-oil sources of energy.

Reference may be made to conflicts that have their origin in the securing of access to oil supplies. Comments may refer to variations in the rate of increase with NICs having a faster increase in demand which causes tensions. Some impacts may arise through the transport of oil and pollution incidents that are a consequence – be careful to credit only where they lead to geopolitical impacts.