U.S. diplomats scored a silent victory last month when the Italian oil company Eni and Russian energy giant Gazprom postponed a deal to share a large claim to Libyan oil. The State Department can't take credit, however, as the two companies based their decision to shelve the arrangement was based on the violence in the region. But it's all part of a bigger plan to keep access to oil out of Russia's paws, reports McClatchy's Kevin G. Hall based on a recent release of WikiLeaks cables. Gazprom, once a part of the Soviet Union's gas ministry, has been busy buying up oil and gas reserves across Europe and the Middle East. In 2008, the state-run company even attempted to buy all of Libya's natural gas and oil. Since then, United States diplomats discussed how prevent Libyan oil from making its way to Russia in the Eni-Gazprom deal.

Russia's role in the battle over energy resources is growing increasingly tense. Another set of WikiLeaks cables reveals the United States and allies are fighting an increasingly fierce battle over oil and gas in the Arctic. There's even been mounting discussion about the danger of an armed conflict breaking out, according to a report in The Guardian:

"Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, the leaders of the Arctic nations are instead investing in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it. They're preparing to fight to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It's like pouring gasoline on a fire…"

There is also concern that Russia may be manoeuvring to claim ownership over huge areas of the Arctic, with one senior Moscow source alleging that a Russian explorer's submarine expedition to plant a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole was ordered by Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

Officials have downplayed the idea of calling the Nato allies' quiet conflict with Russia and others over oil a "new cold war," but journalists are scurrying to coin the term.