Shale Gas a step towards Energy Security
In article titled Shale Gas will Change the World, Gideon Rachman, international affairs columnist for the Financial Times, makes the analogy between a scene in a movie - The Graduate and shale gas.
When the film’s hero is cornered by one of his parents’ friends, the older man’s advice consists of just one word – “plastics”. Rachman comments that something similar keeps happening to him at international conferences; he will be minding his own business, when a delegate will get up with a gleam in his eye and announce portentously – “shale gas!”
Rachman states that this is a reflection of growing excitement in the US and Europe at the hopes that shale gas provides, in large part, the answer to one of the 'most vexatious problems in foreign and economic policy – energy security'.
For decades, American politicians have vowed to pursue “energy independence” and to free the US from reliance on foreign supplies. Yet the reality was that America was facing a future of growing dependence on oil and gas from a variety of unstable, unfriendly and autocratic countries. Meanwhile, the European Union has become increasingly paranoid about its reliance on natural gas supplies from Russia – particularly given the Russian propensity to exert pressure on its neighbour, Ukraine, by cutting off gas supplies. Just to add to the frustrations for the US and Europe, one of the very few alternative suppliers of natural gas is Iran.
Both the EU and China are excited by the idea that they too may soon enjoy a shale gas bonanza. Chinese foreign policy has increasingly been driven by the need to secure energy supplies. But China looks as if it may have its own shale gas reserves, and has signed an agreement with the US to look into exploiting them.
The excitement in Europe is even more pronounced. Just as North Sea oil and gas supplies are running down, the British are hoping that they may discover exploitable supplies of shale gas in Wales and north-west England. The Poles, who have their own special reasons to fear energy dependence on Russia, also think they have exploitable reserves. Radek Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, recently visited Houston to talk to the big US energy companies about shale gas.
Even if European reserves are not as promising as some hope, the EU still stands to benefit indirectly from American shale gas. Supplies of liquid natural gas from Africa and the Gulf, which might have gone to the US, are now being redirected to Europe – reducing the Union’s dependence on Russian gas.
Of course, shale gas cannot be a complete answer to the west’s energy security problems – far less to climate change. But in a world that is not short of bad tidings at the moment, shale gas is a welcome piece of genuinely good news.
Read the full article at Shale Gas will Change the World
Source: Financial Times