There would be a fundamental upheaval if energy-hungry countries were suddenly able to supply themselves independently thanks to the technology of “fracking.” It would be in a geo-strategic turning point.
Let’s imagine a reformed OPEC in, let’s say, ten or twenty years. The president would no longer be from Iran, and the general secretary would not be Libyan. The new organization of petroleum (and now also natural gas) exporting states has moved its seat from Vienna to the Australian Canberra.
The general secretary will be from the U.S. for a few years and then from China. The president will hail from Canada. Currently under discussion: whether Iraq has to resign because it has changed from being an oil exporter into an oil importer. What sounds like political fiction has basis in reality. “Fracking“ is a magical term, short for “hydraulic fracturing,” and it has the potential to fundamentally reverse the realities of the present.
If the process of producing petroleum and natural gas by forcing liquids into deep layers of stone is continued, the now import-ravenous U.S. could become the world’s largest exporter of energy by 2020 thanks to its reserves of shale in Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and New York. Canada, China and Australia would be the other energy giants of the 21st Century.
Russia’s Dominance is Wavering
The consequences? Russia’s dominance over Eastern Europe would waver if the countries there could get their energy from North America – especially since Poland also has considerable reserves at its disposal. Primarily, however, the oil potentates in the Middle East would be threatened with a plunge into insignificance. Israel, by contrast, sits on shale deposits that nearly correspond to the oil reserves of the Saudis.
There is never progress without danger, even beyond environmental protection. A decreasing U.S. involvement in the Middle East could have a destabilizing effect in spite of the Israeli reserves, and the retreat of the Chinese from oil investments in South Sudan would likewise turn the balance of power. One might be pleased if the now de facto monopoly of undemocratically ruled oil nations was ended. But their impoverishment, which could give religious extremists renewed popularity, is not desired.
Ultimately, it’s not about how we wish the world to be, but the direction in which it develops. Therefore, politics are challenged to use the chances of the future reality instead of trusting in the status quo.