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Frack Baby Frack
Shale Boom Has America Sitting Pretty

The shale revolution has quickly and completely remade America’s energy landscape, leaving us in a much stronger position, both economically and geopolitically, than where we found ourselves just a decade ago. The FT reports:

The price gap has led to a 6 per cent average increase in US manufactured product exports, the IMF wrote in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook. […]

Lower prices for natural gas favour energy- and gas-intensive industries, such as steelmaking, oil refining, and nitrogen fertiliser production. The International Energy Agency has previously warned that Europe will lose a third of its share of global energy-intensive exports over the next two decades because its energy prices will remain stubbornly higher than those in the US.

Cheap energy is key for economic growth, and a glut of natural gas is leading to a kind of small renaissance in American manufacturing, especially in energy-intensive industries. More fracking means more gas, lower prices, and growth potential for firms that use that gas. And then there’s the geopolitical aspect of the shale boom, as the New York Times reports:

Joseph S. Nye Jr., the Harvard professor who articulated the notion of “soft power” in international affairs, sees a “shale gale” propelling America’s status: “If you are attracted to a country or any leader, a lot has to do with the feeling, ‘Do they have momentum? Is the wind in their sails or are their sails flapping?’ We’ve got a gust.” […]

The State Department’s energy bureau helped persuade China, India and other countries to reduce imports of Iranian crude oil. The arm-twisting very likely spurred Tehran to freeze its nuclear program last year, though Mr. Pascual, a former ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine, put it more diplomatically. “We were able to have a different kind of conversation than we could have had even 10 years ago,” he recalls, providing negotiating partners with an “analysis of global oil markets: what the trends were in those markets, where supply was coming from — in particular, from the United States.”

America is poised to become the world’s top liquid petroleum producer, supplanting perennial hydrocarbon powerhouses like Russia and Saudi Arabia. Where just a decade ago we were busy building liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminals, now we’re busy converting those facilities to handle exports, and the possibility of opening up crude exports has entered the American energy discussion.

By lessening our dependence on foreign sources of oil and gas, the shale boom has given us more options abroad, and in some cases, as is intimated in the NYT story, has given America more clout in diplomatic standoffs.

There’s an economic success story here, and a geopolitical one as well—and both come courtesy of fracking.

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  • Pete

    All those benefits and to think that the Democrats and much of their base opposes fracking.

    • Sibir_RUS

      Two young children in Pennsylvania were banned from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives under a gag order imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company.
      The children’s father, Chris Hallowich, went on to tell the court it might be difficult to ensure the children’s absolute silence on fracking – given that their ages and that the family lives in the middle of a shale gas boom.
      The Hallowichs’ lawyer, Peter Villari, told the court he had never seen a gag order imposed on children in his 30 years of practicing law, according to the released transcript.

    • alboalt

      In PA we have thousands of shale gas wells thanks to former Gov. Ed Rendell, who pushed for it and nurtured the industry with no extraction tax. Ironic, huh?

  • iowaclass

    And if you think we’re sitting pretty at $100 a barrel, just wait to see how good things are at $125 a barrel!

    • Kevin

      I’d rather see it put downward pressure on the CPI through lower energy prices and increase demand for blue collar labor through greater demand for manufacturing and construction workers – thank you very much. (Almost every problem looks more manageable with a strong and growing economy and a tight labor market.)

  • Sibir_RUS

    Fareed Zakaria in his article in “Time” “The New Oil and Gas Boom” writes:”The Oscar-nominated documentary GasLand suggests that unlocked gas could burst out of people’s taps, allegedly because of fracking. These charges are important, but they need more thorough investigation. Gas could end up in water pipes for a variety of reasons unrelated to fracking.”,9171,2127202,00.html
    The documentary film nominated for Oscar: “GasLand”

  • Sibir_RUS

    The Shale fever…
    Russia is not against competition, but «shale gas revolution» is exaggerated myth.
    Americans (U.S.) are trying to present the production of shale gas as revolutionary method that actually known almost 200 years.
    The first commercial gas refinery in shale formations in the United States was drilled in 1821, William Hart (Hart) in Fredonia, New York
    To extract it and use to the detriment of the environment for their own needs are not far from home is one thing. But to export this shale gas across the ocean – absolutely another.
    In Russia such a barbaric way of shale gas does not apply – bad profitability and strongly pollutes ecology.
    The expediency of its production can be only in the absence of the traditional gas and more modern technologies in the distant future.

  • Sibir_RUS

    In February 2012, Joshua Fox, director of the Oscar-nominated “Gasland” documentary about the environmental dangers of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method used in the mining industry, was arrested trying to film a hearing of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Science on the use of that method. Capitol police later charged him with “illegal entry” on the ground that he was not accredited to the House. Lawmakers had previously denied the ABC and Fox TV channels their right to film the hearings.

  • 4 Just Peace

    Nothing will have America Sitting Pretty. BRICS is growing & the value of US$, as a world major currency, is shrinking & soon it will collapse . That’s why US is simply getting insane vis-a-vis its relations with Russia, with all its crazy sanctions, simply because Russia had initiated the creation of BRICS &, hence, the beginning of the end of the Empire of Evil.

    • Russel aka ‘Rusty’ Shackleford

      The price of the Russian Ruble is collapsing in chase you haven’t noticed. It IS the beginning of the second end of the evil empire, the one that like to invade Ukraine in case you weren’t paying attention. cheap energy, courtesy of US Fracking, spells doom for Moscow.

      • Sibir_RUS

        USA.Greg Hunter: “I don’t think the Russians are worried about sanctions over the Ukraine. I think they and many other countries are trying to halt the use of the U.S. dollar as fast as they can. The latest evidence of that is news of the BRICS making great strides in developing alternatives to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. There is no doubt that the use of the dollar is being used less and less to settle international trade. That is the dominate trend, and I see no reversal in sight. The rest of the world is going to stop depending on the U.S. dollar, and my prediction is that will be much sooner than many can imagine.”

  • Igor A. Ikhilov

    Pumped into the earth chemicals will inevitably make themselves felt, as a minimum impact on the life expectancy of the population, and the maximum will make uninhabitable vast territory, deprived of drinking water. Anyway, all the attempts of the USA to overcome debt problems seem hopeless, primarily in light of the loss of moral authority.

  • teapartydoc

    Note that the same combination of leftists and Russians have realigned to form the opposition to US energy independence that attempted to get us to lose the Cold War. Interesting.

  • RrobertMiller

    there is nothing pretty about the ultimate consequences, which will be
    just the opposite of an “economic success story.” This “shale boom” is
    just part of the prelude to a global economic disaster unlike anything
    else in history. The science of fossil-fuel emissions and their
    inescapable effect on climate is not a “hoax” or some sort of amazing
    conspiracy among all the world’s scientists. It is established beyond
    question. We need to get back to something like 350 ppm CO2 but we are
    now going past 400 ppm and going up by 2 ppm every year. How many
    billions do we have to lose from droughts and hurricanes and acidified
    oceans and other effects before we face reality?

  • RrobertMiller

    “Rapid emissions reduction is required to restore Earth’s energy balance and avoid ocean heat uptake that would practically guarantee irreversible effects. Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice.”

  • ashermiller

    Unfortunately, this article provides no context for the shale boom. While it is certainly true that there has been a remarkable rise in oil production as a result of shales, the Energy Information Administration itself forecasts tight oil to peak by the end of the decade. There is a strong probability that, because of the nature of shales (the high decline rates of wells and fields; the quick saturation of the sweet spots, outside of which the productivity of wells drops significantly), the shale revolution will in fact be a short term production bubble.

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