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
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," independent.co.uk, March 11, 2014