The changing balance of energy power

posted in: China, Economics | 0

There is growing enthusiasm in the US around the possibility that US oil and gas output will rise sharply in the next decade, improving  the US balance of payments and sharply reducing the power of OPEC and major gas exporters such as Russia. This is on the back of “unconventional” hydrocarbons, partly shale gas and partly various forms of previously unrecoverable oil sources.  A recent chart from a presentation by the US-based Energy Policy Research Foundation forecasts a dramatic increase in US production. On top of this, Canadian-sourced unconventional oil will eventually reach the US, once the controversial Keystone pipeline is built (President Obama has blocked this for the moment but the consensus seems to be that it will be approved after the next election, whoever wins).

The EPRINC presentation is available here but the key slide (page eight) on US oil production (million barrels per day – the red line is January 2012) is shown below. (I learned of this from the excellent Oil and Glory blog).

If all of this new gas and oil is produced, it will keep prices lower (gas prices have already collapsed in the US), improve the US economic position and undermine the power of the oil and gas producing countries. This is not good for the fight against climate change and very unwelcome news for Russia. But good news for the world’s other major hydrocarbon importer, China.

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