US Shale Exports Could Redraw Geopolitical Map


By Dr. Benny Peiser —— Bio and Archives December 20, 2012

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One of the great surprises to almost everyone in this early part of the 21st Century is the explosion of American energy production. It is almost as shocking as the fall of the Berlin Wall, if not quite as iconic.—Mike D’Virgilio, The American Culture, 18 December 2012

It is becoming increasingly clear that the United States, which has huge gas surpluses as a result of the boom in shale gas production, is interested in exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its European North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) partners. The European Commission welcomes the decision, on one condition, said Marlene Holzner, spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, on 19 December: the LNG exports must be available to all 27 EU member states, not just the 21 NATO members. While the decision is still being debated across the Atlantic, the delivery of LNG to Europe could redraw the entire geopolitical energy map.—Marie-Martine Buckens, Europolitics, 19 December 2012

Keen to make Central and Eastern Europe less reliant on Russian energy, a veteran US senator has introduced a bill that eases restrictions on exports of US liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. Normally, firms only have an unfettered right to export LNG to countries with which the US has free trade agreements. To export to other nations, companies must apply for a licence from the US Department of Energy, which can refuse it on national security grounds. The draft law from Senator Dick Lugar (Indiana), the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, extends this privilege to all NATO countries. This move comes in response to the recent boom in shale gas production in the US, which has suddenly left the country with excess gas supplies.—Brian Beary, Europolitics, 19 December 2012

Shale gas constitutes a new source of extractable energy for the post-industrial world. Countries that have considerable shale deposits will be better placed in the 21st century competition between states, and those without such deposits will be worse off. The coming of shale gas will magnify the importance of geography. Which countries have shale underground and which don’t will help determine power relationships. And because shale gas can be transported across oceans in liquid form, states with coastlines will have the advantage. The world will be smaller because of unconventional gas extraction technology, but that only increases the preciousness of geography, rather than decreases it.—Robert D Kaplan, Stratford, 19 December 2012

So imagine a future in which the United States exports liquefied shale gas to Europe, reducing the dependence that European countries have on Russian energy. The geopolitics of Europe could shift somewhat. Less dependence on Russia would allow the vision of a truly independent, culturally vibrant Central and Eastern Europe to fully prosper — an ideal of the region’s intellectuals for centuries, even as ideas in this case would have little to do with it.—Robert D Kaplan, Stratford, 19 December 2012

The U.S. will produce an average of 6.41 million barrels a day this year, a 14 percent increase from 2011, according to a Dec. 11 report from the Department of Energy. It’s the biggest annual gain in the number of barrels since the industry began when Pennsylvania’s Drake well ignited the first American oil rush in 1859, department data show.—Asjylyn Loder, Bloomberg, 19 December 2012

California, even as it seeks to be the greenest U.S. state, stands a good chance of emerging as the nation’s top oil producer in the next decade, helping America toward what once seemed an unlikely goal of energy independence. The economic lure is obvious. The Golden State’s unemployment rate sits at 10.1 percent, third highest in the nation. It faces enormous underfunded public employee pension obligations and has racked up state budget shortfalls of $500 billion in the past four years.—Bradley Olson, Bloomberg News, 19 December 2012

It is the bloggers who are science’s new auditors. Many do not like it and have a cultural difficulty in accepting that the times are a changing. But as the new generations take over, science will become more participatory and more appreciated. All scientific conclusions are open to revision, especially those of climate science. Only today that revision is no longer exclusively in the hands of the scientific priesthood, or in the overvalued opinions of those on TV.—David Whitehouse, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 20 December 2012



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