Nov 14, 2012 2:14 AM GMT
The US is becoming an energy superpower in spite of the Obama Administration. After the election, it has already moved to make energy development more difficult and costly. The industry is bracing itself:
It’s obviously a big question, but it’s the one you’re left with from the conclusions of a report released Monday by the International Energy Agency. The central finding is that, by 2020, the U.S. will lose its dependence on Saudi Arabian oil and become self-sufficient in energy. Within another 15 years North America will become a net exporter of oil, and 90% of Middle East exports will begin flowing to China, India and fast-growing Asian economies. Chief among rising Middle East energy exporters will be Iraq, which the IEA sees accounting for 45% of the growth in global oil production after 2020, overtaking Russia to become the second-largest global oil exporter.
It would be a breathtaking re-making of the international power structure, and only eight years into the future, according to the agency. Whoever replaces Barack Obama as the next president could preside over the biggest change in political dynamics since the U.S. emergence as a superpower. The forecast could also be totally wrong – sweeping visions of future developments often are. But the agency is not alone in supposing profound results will follow from the rapid changes that have overtaken U.S. energy reserves with the development of technologies that give access to previously locked-in supplies of oil and natural gas. Rice University’s Baker Institute reports that U.S. import terminals for liquified natural gas are already barely used and adds that “developments in Canada, Brazil and the Americas more generally have tilted the center of gravity in energy markets toward the Western Hemisphere” for the first time in decades.
The obvious first reaction would be an immense wave of relief. No more dependence on the Middle East? Great. No more wars over oil; no more catering to unstable autocracies run by corrupt sheiks with their army of princes and princelings. No more need to wonder what happens if some insurgent group of religious fanatics gains control over vital shipping lanes and shuts off the energy flow. No more oil wells blazing in the desert because one murderous dictator or another doesn’t want to give up his job.