Fletcher Features
The Impact of Shale Gas Technology on Geopolitics
Dr. Daniel Fine of MIT discusses how new technology in extracting gas will impact geopolitics and the environment

Dr. Daniel Fine of the Mining and Minerals Resources Institute at MIT addressed Fletcher students at a talk sponsored by the International Security Studies Program and offered his insights into how the development of new technology will allow the United States to tap vast, previously inaccessible, resources of natural gas that will impact everything from the price of gasoline to the ability of Chinese companies to buy equity in Russian natural gas fields.

The United States has a monopoly on “hydro-fracing” technology. The technology, short for hydraulic fracturing, releases natural gas trapped in shale deposits by injecting the deposits with high-pressure water mixed with sand and small amounts of chemical additives.


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According to Dr. Fine, the “cloud over gas” used to be “do we have enough gas?” In 2003, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan declared that the United States did not have enough natural gas, and that it would be necessary to import liquid natural gas (LNG). This, said Dr. Fine, was clearly a mistake in the light of the new hydro-facing technology, not only because importing LNG poses a security risk to the United States, but because tapping natural gas from shale represents an economic “bonanza” in “the most [economically] repressed parts of the country:” western New York, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, areas which suffer from high rates of unemployment, and are estimated to host 490 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The thousands of jobs that could be created in these areas could stand in the way of President Obama’s pursuit of subsidies for renewable energy.

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