From Anti-Fracking Movement to OPEC: Shale Drives New Geoeconomics of Oil

The emergence of fracking has modified the global market for fossil fuels. But the plunge in oil prices has diluted the effect, in a struggle that experts in the United States believe conventional producers could win in the next decade.

The U.S. oil industry had peaked — when the discovery of new deposits and output from existing wells begins to fall — which made the country more dependent on imports. But the equation was turned around thanks to the new technique.

“The bubble won’t explode, but it will progressively deflate. At current prices, we would see a relatively quick shrinking of capital availability for the shale sector, because those companies are producing at a loss.” –David LivingstonThe innovative technology of hydraulic fracturing or fracking and the discovery of large deposits of shale gas and oil, along with massive investment flows, led to predictions that the United States would become autonomous in fossil fuels this decade. But these forecasts have been undermined by the drop in prices.

“The world is entering a new era of uncertainty in the geoeconomics of oil,” said David Livingston, an associate in the Energy and Climate Programme of the U.S. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is far from certain that the notoriously volatile oil market will become less cyclical.”

The analyst told IPS that as a result of domestic U.S. demand, “Companies will lose spare capacity, between what they can produce and what they produce, which is important, because the market is determined by that capacity.”

After 2003 international oil prices climbed, to 140 dollars a barrel in 2008, when the global financial crisis brought them down.

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