The International Energy Agency now projects that North America will be energy self-sufficient by 2020, with the U.S. becoming the world’s largest producer of both natural gas and oil. . In 2000, shale gas accounted for only 1% of all US natural gas production. Today, it accounts for almost a quarter, and by 2035, it will be over half. The resulting low cost of natural gas has turned the US into an energy-exporting nation, has transformed states like North Dakota into boom areas and is in the process of driving coal out of business. The geopolitical, economic, and environmental ramifications of this new development are just coming into view.
Countries across the globe are now looking to the United States to see if they should develop their shale gas resources. Cheaper natural gas is shifting the geopolitical power balance between the EU and Russia. China’s shale reserves are supposedly larger than those in the US, with Argentina not far behind. Countries like Mexico, South Africa and Australia could also benefit. But will the myriad risks, from increased carbon emissions to water contamination and potential earthquakes, outweigh the benefits?
With the political, social and economic fallout still up in the air, The Energy Collective hosted a webcast focused on exploring what this means. Among other issues, we discussed:
- What are the policy roadblocks in different countries to more hydraulic fracturing? Can the opposition of environmental groups be overcome?
- What are the geopolitical considerations? How is OPEC reacting to this development?
- What does the changing landscape of fossil energy production in the U.S. portend for energy policy globally?
Jane Nakano is an Energy & National Security Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include energy security and climate change in Asia, nuclear energy, shale gas, rare earth metals, and energy and technology. Prior to joining CSIS in 2010, she was with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and served as the lead staff on U.S. energy engagements with China and Japan.
Geoffrey Styles is Managing Director of GSW Strategy Group, LLC, an energy and environmental strategy consulting firm. His industry experience includes 22 years at Texaco Inc., culminating in a senior position on Texaco’s leadership team for strategy development, focused on the global refining, marketing, transportation and alternative energy businesses, and global issues such as climate change. He has been quoted frequently by the Wall Street Journal and was named one of the “Top 50 Eco Blogs” by the Times of London in 2008.
Mark Caine is a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. There, he coordinates energy and climate programmes for the Mackinder Programme for the Study of Long Wave Events, a research centre dedicated to political economy, geopolitics, long-wave trends, and scenario-based thinking.
Jesse Jenkins, Moderator
Jesse is an MIT Energy Initiative Energy Fellow and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Jesse worked previously as the Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Institute. He has delivered invited testimony on clean energy innovation policy before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.