Pendulum swings on American oil independence
Comment of the Day

November 01 2011

Commentary by David Fuller

Pendulum swings on American oil independence

This is an interesting article from the Financial Times (may require subscription registration, PDF also provided), moving closer to a view espoused by Fullermoney for over a year. Here is a brief sample:
The true significance of the oil rush, however, will be felt far beyond this rural state on the Canadian border. Along with similar booms that are under way or expected across North America, from Alberta to Texas, it is a development that holds profound implications for the economy of the US and its status as superpower. In prospect is energy independence - a decades-old dream of American politicians of all stripes.

"Over the past couple of years, there has been a great U-turn in US oil supply," says Daniel Yergin of IHS Cera, the research group. "Until recently, the question was whether oil imports would flatten out. Now we are seeing a major rebalancing of supplies."

Many analysts expect that in the coming decade the US will leapfrog Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's largest producer of liquid hydrocarbons, counting both crude oil and lighter natural gas liquids such as propane and ethane. That optimism reflects the increasing flow of "tight oil" as well as gas from shale - rock formations holding reserves unlocked through new extraction technologies.

David Fuller's view Shale oil and gas was something that veteran subscribers and I have been reading about since at least the 1960s. However, until a few years ago it was always regarded as too difficult to extract commercially.

The USA has the world's largest known reserves of shale oil and the second largest known reserves of shale gas. Most of this, particularly the oil, is concentrated in low population area making it easier to extract.

Fullermoney has maintained for over a year that the USA could be energy independent, possibly within the next 12 to 15 years. If this does not happen, it will be primarily due to political reasons, including restrictions on drilling for shale and some conventional known reserves; a preference for non fossil fuels for environmental reasons, or a decision to preserve national supplies when imports are cheaper.

I believe the article above is wrong about China's energy supplies in its concluding paragraph:

"The notion that the US was a superpower in the 20th century but won't be in the 21st doesn't hold up so well now," Mr Morse says. "Compare it to a country such as China, which is going to be overwhelmingly dependent on energy imports. The US is in a much stronger position."

China has the world's largest known reserves of shale gas and the second largest known reserves of shale oil. China has already bought in the technology to develop these resources in future.

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