A few months ago, The FT published a series of articles on a new source of energy which will take the Western world by storm. It is shale gas: an unconventional source of energy, a gas that is extracted using sophisticated technology called fracking. The US has made immense progress and is set for the first time to become a gas exporter rather than an importer. Energy independence has been a title of American strategy on energy; Barack Obama spoke on several occasions about weaning the US off Middle Eastern oil, and it looks like he has kept up his promise.
Given that the price of this gas is cheaper than natural gas, the success made by the US drew the attention of several other countries. The Chinese are keeping a close eye on the matter and they have funded some of the projects and are hoping to get the US technology to start projects at home. The Poles are following suit with their own attempts at extracting this gas; and the Brits are investing in several projects in the US.
Articles like these should set alarm bells ringing in oil producing countries and especially Algeria. Algeria is in a double whammy because it depends on oil and gas for its existence, and the US is our number one trading partner. We export the equivalent of 24billion USD of crude oil and gas to the US. What adds salt to the wound is that even if our rulers know anything about this, which I doubt they do, they do not have any tricks up their sleeves to come up with strategies to deal with the consequences of losing a significant customer like the US. They made us believe that we did not have to worry about this problem for another 50 years or so. It looks like they were wrong, and the time to do something about it was yesterday not tomorrow.
Many Algerians believe that our rulers have planned well for their escape to Europe, by stashing Swiss bank accounts with stolen money in preparation of the dreaded day, when oil and gas run out. Let’s hope they will do that sooner, when they realize that the US and the West do not need their oil anymore.
P.S: some environmentalists are against the extraction of shale gas in the US due to the dangers of polluting drinking water. Maybe they will slow the process down and give our rulers some time to re- build a few roads…