The Oil and the Glory

The shale gas chain-reaction

For the last couple of months, this blog has been discussing the energy and geopolitical disruption under way because of the ocean of shale gas being developed in the United States. As we’ve said, the implications start right in Alaska, and move on from there — to Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East. It ...

For the last couple of months, this blog has been discussing the energy and geopolitical disruption under way because of the ocean of shale gas being developed in the United States. As we’ve said, the implications start right in Alaska, and move on from there — to Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East. It is a shakeup that could loosen some of today’s seemingly most intractable problems.

This scenario is picking up traction. In The Wall Street Journal, Rice University expert Amy Myers Jaffe has written a long piece agreeing with this way of looking at the shale gas chain-reaction. And today in the Financial Times, foreign affairs writer Gideon Rachman picks up the theme as well. On her blog today at the FT, Kate Mackenzie also notes that shale gas has assumed a magical cachet, and we all know where recent similar such manias have led.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill demonstrates that environmental concerns can rapidly change the energy picture, and the jury is still out on the impact of shale gas on the water table. But there is a Saudi Arabia-size volume of new natural gas supplies both from shale and liquified natural gas in Qatar and Australia, and this development is a big part of the new disruptive geopolitics of energy.

<p> Steve LeVine is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy, a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of The Oil and the Glory. </p>