November 15, 2012
The Guardian

How Cheap Energy From Shale Will Reshape America's Role in the World

US self-sufficiency in energy is likely to end American reliance on despotic Gulf regimes but biggest loser of all may be Russia

by Julian Borger and Larry Elliott

US reliance on the Gulf for its oil - and its consequent need to maintain a dominant presence in the Middle East to keep the oil flowing - has been one of the constants of the post-1945 status quo. That could be turned on its head. . . .

The reason is simple. The US is the home to vast shale oil and gas deposits made commercially viable by improvements to a 200-year-old technique called fracking and by the relentlessly high cost of crude.

Exploitation of fields in Appalachian states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and further west in North Dakota, have transformed the US's energy outlook pretty much overnight. Professor Dieter Helm, an energy expert at Oxford University, said: "In the US, shale gas didn't exist in 2004. Now it represents 30% of the market."

If all the known shale gas resources were developed to their commercial potential in North America and other new fields, production could more than quadruple over the next two decades, and account for more than half of US natural gas production by the early 2030s, according to recent study by the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Centre. . . .

Long-term consequences for the rest of the world are hard to predict but it is probably safe to say that many of the regimes whose global role rests on hydrocarbons alone are likely to be significantly weakened, if not swept away. . . .


"Energo-fascism: The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences," The Wisdom Fund, January 16, 2007

M K Bhadrakumar, "Russia, China, Iran Redraw Energy Map," Asia Times, January 8, 2010

David Usborne, "Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia,", March 11, 2014

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