The shale revolution has been a uniquely American phenomenon, and that’s provided the U.S. with a new competitive advantage: cheap gas. Thanks to fracking, America is suddenly flush with natural gas, as well as a burgeoning supply of natural gas liquids (an important chemical feedstock and natural gas drilling byproduct). That’s attracting the interest of petrochemical companies around the world, and especially in Europe, where green opposition to fracking has prevented industry from reaping similar benefits. The chief economist of the International Energy Agency warned that this development is putting tens of millions of European jobs at risk, Bloomberg reports:
Manufacturers of petrochemicals, aluminum, fertilizers and plastics are leaving Europe to take advantage of booming U.S. production of natural gas from shale rock formations, Fatih Birol, chief economist for the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations, said at a conference in London today.“Many petrochemicals companies in central Europe are moving out,” Birol said. “Thirty million jobs are in danger.”
Europe’s loss is America’s gain. The continent’s policymakers might want to take a closer look at fracking; it would not only support industry, but it would also help reduce dependence on imports of Russian natural gas.