The shifting geopolitics of the shale gas boom

posted at 2:31 pm on January 26, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Many from within the environmental lobby and “green” community seem to have already made up their minds to remain dead-set in their opposition to the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is just plain weird — because the attitude amounts to cutting your nose off merely to get really spiteful with your face. Regardless of the wealth, jobs, and economic growth for which hydrofracking is single-handedly responsible (such mundane material don’t tend to sway the real eco-radicals), the natural gas boom has also been a major player in 2012 marking the United States’ lowest carbon emissions in two solid decades.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, there is an entirely other reason to get behind the natural gas boom: The stuff is everywhere (just this week, Australia figured out that they have a shale source probably larger than Canada’s oil sands), and allowing for further exports and supporting global development has the potential to redraw the geopolitical map and break up some of the influence currently afforded to Russia and the Middle East for their own robust energy production operations.

For example, Russia is the dominant source of natural gas to Europe, providing 50% of European gas.  That dominance provides Russia tremendous political leverage, which it has shown to be very willing to use.  In the recent past, it shut off supplies to the Ukraine after a price dispute and cut deliveries to other countries during bitterly cold winters.  Diversifying Europe’s sources of natural gas would allow central and eastern Europe to fully prosper without the threat of a shut off hanging over their heads.

Before his exit from the Senate, Sen. Lugar suggested that, as well as LNG exports spelling a total win for our economy, they could also come in handy as a geopolitical weapon — and at this exact moment in time, the U.S. is one of the few countries with the infrastructure and technology to really compete on that scale (which is why it makes exactly zero sense that certain protectionist-leaning niche interests and their Congressional allies are still trying to hold up the American companies’ applications for LNG exports). Other countries and companies around the world are exploring whether they wouldn’t like to get in on the economic bounty afforded by shale oil and gas, too… and Russia isn’t partial to that at all.

Russia has demanded that Ukraine pay billions of dollars for failing to import an agreed amount of gas.

The move came just as Kiev has taken a significant step to break free from its reliance on costly Russian gas imports.

The bill was presented as Ukraine signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell to exploit “unconventional” gas reserves in shale and sandstone that could ultimately involve $10bn-plus in investment, according to a senior official in Kiev.

The Russian demand threatens to cause a third high-profile energy dispute between the former Soviet states after Russia twice cut off gas supplies to Ukraine since 2006 amid squabbles over prices.

Economic benefits, environmental benefits, and the potential to put a damper on Russia and the Middle East’s bullying chokeholds on regional energy markets? What exactly isn’t to like here?


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Regardless of the wealth, jobs, and economic growth for which hydrofracking is single-handedly responsible

LOL…good stuff…good stuff….but you have to agree these punks care nothing about wealth, jobs, and economic growth. You’re mixing apples and orang…..err….turds into the equation.

msupertas on January 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM

The greens hate this because they all were banking on “peak oil” to force us neanderthals to switch to “renewable” energy sources. With petroleum and gas suddenly cheap and plentiful, that ain’t gonna happen. (It wasn’t going to happen anyway, but now even the greens can see that it won’t happen.)

What the greens really, really want is fewer humans, consuming less each. They hate the fracking revolution because it’s moving us in exactly the opposite direction, toward more consumption and wealth.

Steven Den Beste on January 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM

…SMARTPOWER…!!!

KOOLAID2 on January 26, 2013 at 2:46 PM

On AXUS Tv there was a great documentary called FrackNation. It was fantastic.

Weight of Glory on January 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM

On AXUS Tv there was a great documentary called FrackNation. It was fantastic.

Weight of Glory on January 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM

It’ll be on again on Feb 2. It was a fantastic show. It drives home the info without getting into all the faux hysteria that the Matt Damon crowd has bought into.

john1schn on January 26, 2013 at 2:59 PM

This is something I’m hoping I might be able to get into vis-a-vis a job in a couple of years after I get my masters. GIS as a field continues to grow, and if the fracking boom continues, there’ll continue to be a need for mapping.

Logus on January 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM

john1schn on January 26, 2013 at 2:59 PM

That’s good news. The more Americans are exposed to the great potential fracking provides the better.

Weight of Glory on January 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Economic benefits, environmental benefits, and the potential to put a damper on Russia and the Middle East’s bullying chokeholds on regional energy markets? What exactly isn’t to like here?

Everything in Ogabe’s mind. There’s no payoff to his “green” donation bundlers. He loves Russia and Putin because they are the successors to the great socialist dream, the USSR. And he loves the Muslim Middle East. Setting the US on a path that enriches the US and advances US interests at the cost of any or all three is anathema to Ogabe.

catsandbooks on January 26, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Who’s afraid of global alternatives?

Exactly!

Bmore on January 26, 2013 at 3:07 PM

VPN still working Erika.

DarkCurrent on January 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM

What exactly isn’t to like here?

It’s just BAD!

BAD!

Waa! Waa!! Waa!!!

Waa.

Bruno Strozek on January 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Tell us tales of places you’ve never been

DarkCurrent on January 26, 2013 at 3:13 PM

It figures AXUS TV is not in our cable lineup. It’d be a great birthday present.

It’s OK, though. I’ll find a way to see it.

PatriotGal2257 on January 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Cheap gas, more cars equal the end of the world as they know it. Probably not a bad thing.

Cindy Munford on January 26, 2013 at 3:45 PM

The only way I can figure out the greenies opposition to EVERYTHING based on technology. Is that they want us to live in mud huts and burn camel dung. It’s only when I look at it from that perspective that they make sense.

Wood Dragon on January 26, 2013 at 3:47 PM

PatriotGal2257 on January 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Birthday today, PatriotGal?

Barred on January 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Excutive order coming soon: All frackers must first pass the death panels with no consideration of waivers.

Don L on January 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Cheap, abundant energy means that individuals and corporations owe less obeisance to the Sauds and ME in general, thus severing corrupting ties and lessening the likes of al Qaeda as oil revenue starts to go down. There is less graft to be had in the ME, more productive nations get more income, and those that used to have reliable income sources depending on oil now find themselves without an industrial base because they squandered all their wealth on fancy baubles, terrorists and political clout.

That means the cozy relationship of the Left with fundamentalist Islamists is hitting hard times as the terrorists get less money, private individuals in the west get more income, and the mental block the Left has on a non-expanding pie evaporates in front of their eyes. These groups will do anything to perpetuate the old system and do everything they can to destroy the industrialized west that can actually lift mankind out of poverty…. yet they call themselves ‘progressive’ in nature by trying to stop it. Silly Leftists who hate actual progress and prefer political power that only destroys man. This is going to be a shocking age to them. Sucks to be them.

ajacksonian on January 26, 2013 at 4:59 PM

The shale oil/gas revolution will stand with other historic milestones, nearly on par with the internet revolution and the industrial revolution. Widespread affordable energy will transform the world. The Obamafascists can delay it, but they cannot stop it.

petefrt on January 26, 2013 at 7:34 PM