Fracking Goes Global
American Shale Gas Makes its European Debut

Norway just received Europe’s first taste of the American shale revolution this week, as a ship delivered ethane separated out from natural gas fracked in the northeast United States’ Marcellus shale formation on Wednesday. The Guardian reports:

Ineos, the chemical group, said that its own gas carrier arrived in Norway on Wednesday with 27,500 cubic metres of American ethane on board. Shipments to Ineos’s UK refinery at Grangemouth are scheduled to start later this year.

“This is a strategically important day for Ineos and Europe,” said Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and founder of Ineos which has spent $2bn on different aspects of its import programme over five years.

“We know that shale gas economics revitalised US manufacturing and for the first time ever Europe can access this essential energy and raw material source too,” he added.

This isn’t liquified natural gas (LNG), but rather an important byproduct of natural gas sought after by chemical companies. It’s the first of many more cargoes to be delivered across the Atlantic along what the chemical company Ineos is calling “a virtual pipeline,” and with North Sea natural gas production on the wane, the timing of its arrival couldn’t be better.

The shale revolution has remade America’s energy landscape, and changed the debate from how best to manage resource scarcity to one in which we’re looking at how best to capitalize on our newfound oil and gas abundance. Now that Congress has lifted the four decade old ban on crude oil exports and shipments of LNG cargoes are finally starting to set out for buyers abroad, the United States suddenly finds itself as an influential exporter in the global hydrocarbons market. What a difference a decade makes.

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