Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A new angle on fracking

David Seaton's News Links
I had an interesting conversation about fracking today with a very knowledgeable Spanish executive in the energy sector.
We weren't asking ourselves about the ecological questions that arise with fracking, but more about the geopolitical-strategic factors of this technology.
This person remarked that there seemed to be a contradiction between fracking being a sort of silver bullet that was going to make the USA totally independent in energy and reduce the influence of the major producers of natural gas, which just happen to be Russia and Iran and the curious fact that most of this business is being carried out by smaller companies.
Contradictory, this person said, because energy is economically, politically and militarily strategic and if fracking is going to be the key technology in the sector, it is going to have to be tightly regulated and the government wants to have a very clear idea of who to call for quick action in an emergency: chief executive officers, associations, lobbyists, etc. This means big, multinationals, not a multitude of middle and small size outfits.
I asked what this might mean.
The executive replied that it might mean that fracking as America's "secret weapon" was all some sort of bubble created for propaganda purposes for dealing with Iran and Russia and the rapid disintegration of America's influence in the Middle East. 

In this person's opinion that would explain the multitude of small companies... because they are not "too big to fail", and when the crisis abates the government can pull the plug on them and send them crashing with none of the consequences of doing something like that to the "majors", whose leaders and shareholders would have the scalp of any politician that caused them to lose serious money in a geostrategic ploy.
This argument made a lot of sense to me and I thought I would pass it on to my readers. DS

1 comment:

Publius said...

The fracking phenomenon is just another classic bubble play, a way for insiders to get the public frothing at the mouth over a new get-rich quick scheme. Then the insiders sell their stock and companies, and make out like bandits.

This time, though, the public is apt to get very disturbed, when they find out that due to huge fixed costs, and low return on energy investment (ROEI), fracking will be a bust.

Fracking will never replace enough of the decline in the major oil fields globally to enable America (and the rest of the world) to sustain the current level of per capita energy expenditure. Thus, increasing poverty, despair, and revolution and social decay are baked in the cake.
Fracking is industrial civilization's last dying gasp. It might provide a bit of leverage over Russia and Iran, etc., but that's not going to last long.