John Foster, International Energy Economist

EVENT DATE: February 14, 2008
TOPIC: Afghanistan and the new great energy game

John is an expert on the world oil scene.  He’s visited and worked in more than thirty countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Born in London, England, he graduated from Cambridge University in economics and law. After service in the Royal Navy (including Suez), he joined British Petroleum, working on strategic planning in London UK, then came to Montreal for a two-year posting.  He moved on to the World Bank (Asia Department) in Washington DC, working on country economic assessments and loan operations and becoming the Bank’s first petroleum economist. When Petro-Canada was created, he served as its lead economist in Ottawa and Calgary.  Later, he returned to Washington DC and worked with the Inter-American Development Bank on energy and development issues in Latin America.

Summary: Afghanistan has become the major focus of Canadian defence, aid and foreign policy. Why? Official answers omit Afghanistan’s strategic importance in the geopolitical rivalry for control of the oil and gas resources of Central Asia – the New Great Game. At stake are pipeline routes to get energy resources to market, and power and wealth in the region. Afghanistan’s role as an energy bridge – a geographic link between Central and South Asia – has long been recognized, but rarely talked about in Canada. Intelligent decisions on Canada’s future role in Afghanistan and NATO require attention to energy issues.