Recruiters from drillers in the shale gas industry attend a job fair in the cafeteria of Deer Lakes High School, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Cheswick, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
My entrance into the energy business almost 15 years ago started with analyzing U.S. energy security, on the common assumption that our oil and gas production had both peaked – a few years before the shale revolution changed everything (see Figure).
The cornerstone of U.S. energy security, the pillar of it all, is producing more of the resources that we have at our disposal. This isn’t about being anti-trade, but about being pro-self-reliance. Increased self-sufficiency, not “energy independence,” is our perpetual goal.
A glance around the world makes it very clear that we must continually support the critical triad of 1) new energy production, 2) new energy infrastructure, and 3) new energy exports. This is hardly an exhaustive list of reasons why but I hit what I could.
OPEC and Russia control nearly 80% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 70% of the gas. In contrast, while our production is soaring, we still only control 7% of the world’s oil and gas reserves – and developing more our immense oil and gas resource would change that. The ability to enhance energy security is the core of U.S. coal: we have nearly a 380-year supply and hold nearly a quarter of all proven reserves.
Scary given that oil is our most vital source of energy, OPEC and Russia are now looking to construct a 20-year alliance for oil production control cooperation. Already accounting for over 55% of global supply, these “not free” nations cannot be handed any more of the global oil market – and anti-U.S. oil development policies do just that.
Natural gas is the emerging source of energy that will increasingly be used to lower greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Seeking OPEC-like cartel control on global gas supplies, the growing institutionalization of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum will mostly give Russia, already responsible for nearly a quarter of the world’s gas exports, the ability to coordinate with other producers to restrict supplies. This is a major problem: historically regional, gas via LNG is increasingly becoming more of a global commodity like oil sold on an international market, where “events over there, can impact prices over here.”
A natural fit between the largest consumer and the second largest producer, China and Russia are solidifying more energy links. The two giants have long disagreed on price, but more cooperation is a certainty in the years and decades ahead. In fact, now two-thirds complete, the 3.7 Bcf/d Power of Siberia pipeline will start shipping Russian gas to China in December of 2019. Russia is also seeking to make a major splash in the critically important LNG export business, and even seeks pipelines to the island of Japan as well as South Korea. The Russia-North Korea-South Korea (RNS) gas pipeline could be a game-changer.
Remember that pipelines are effectively permanent and therefore establish effectively permanent energy partnerships, for better or worse. This has continually been demonstrated in Europe, where despite 20 years of trying to lower reliance on piped Russian oil and gas, Europe is actually becoming more reliant on Putin. Anti-fossil fuel development laws in Europe have left its energy security in the lurch: the EU imports 90% of its crude and 70% of its gas, with an import bill of over €1 billion per day.