Go Ahead, Vladimir. We can’t use shale gas as a weapon! July 28 2014

Based on an article in The Sunday Times – 30 March 2014

Oil prices are still set in world markets. Fracking oil is too light and too sweet (low in sulphur) for use in American refineries. So America continues to be a big importer of heavier crude oil, dependent on unstable regimes for steady supplies at tolerable prices. Natural gas will not become a geopolitical tool until substantial political barriers to its export can be hurdled.

In America the current administration regards oil and natural gas, along with coal, as responsible for climate change, and to be phased out as the transition to renewables is completed. For them natural gas is at best a “bridge fuel” to take us to the day when the world relies completely on solar, wind and other non-fossil fuels to operate highly energy-efficient cars, factories and homes.

Just 6 of 37 applications to build the terminals needed to liquefy natural gas for export (at an estimated cost of $30bn each) have climbed the first step on the ladder to approval, and only one is under construction. Environmental groups fear the impact on areas in which these terminals would be built. America’s Energy Advantage, a lobby group led by Dow and Alcoa, want to keep these resources for domestic use at low prices; and the law requires special government review of any natural gas exports to nations with which the US does not have a free-trade agreement.

Add to all of this a 40-year-old statute that makes it virtually impossible for American companies to export crude oil, and it will be a long while before America becomes what it might become – the world’s largest exporter of crude oil.