Shale gas – the new best US foreign policy tool?

RealClearEnergyMirtchev, A. (2013, November 27). Shale gas – the new best US foreign policy tool? RealClearEnergy

In an article on RealClearEnergy, Dr. Alexander Mirtchev, Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, considers the geo-economic and foreign policy implications and advantages that the United States, its allies, and global economic security overall, could derive from the perceived advent of the so-called “shale gas revolution.” The growing significance attached to non-traditional fossil fuel resources is seen as a factor that can remove previous dependencies on external suppliers, the need to protect transport routes and choke points, as well as the concomitant necessity to maintain the security of far-flung territories and countries that are often a source of instability. The further development of these energy resources could eventually provide the U.S. with new forms of geo-economic power by creating a new bargaining chip – something that can be offered or withheld to induce specific geopolitical postures in others. Offering access to these new resources may allow the U.S. to offset the reliance of its allies, in particular in the EU, on foreign energy suppliers, making them less susceptible to the use of energy as geopolitical leverage by exporting countries. The benefit from taking advantage of the “shale gas revolution” could lie not just in the geopolitical realm, but can open up new horizons for economic development within the U.S. itself. However, the practical use of these energy resources for geopolitical and geo-economic purposes is subject to the establishment of new trade relations, networks, infrastructure and capabilities. The choice of whether or not to pursue the development of these new energy resources to advance U.S. foreign policy, geo-economic and geopolitical interests would depend on the extent to which “rather than being a harbinger of a geopolitical withdrawal by the US, the new opportunities presented by shale gas and oil could presage a possible strategic expansion of America’s geopolitical role.”