Το σχιστολιθικό αέριο θα τονίσει την σημασία της γεωγραφίας σε βάρος "ιδεολογιών". Η Αμερική έχει. Η Κίνα έχει. Η Μογγολία έχει. Η Αυστραλία έχει. Ο Καναδάς γίνεται ενεργειακός γεωπολιτικός παράγων με το αέριο και το πετρέλαιό του. Η εξαγωγή του αερίου (και η εισαγωγή του) χρειάζεται ακριβές υποδομές. Το σχιστολιθικό αέριο θα είναι και λίγο ...πρόβλημα για την Ρωσία.
December 19, 2012 | 1105 GMT
By Robert D. Kaplan
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
According to the elite newspapers and journals of opinion, the future of foreign affairs mainly rests on ideas: the moral impetus for humanitarian intervention, the various theories governing exchange rates and debt rebalancing necessary to fix Europe, the rise of cosmopolitanism alongside the stubborn vibrancy of nationalism in East Asia and so on. In other words, the world of the future can be engineered and defined based on doctoral theses. And to a certain extent this may be true. As the 20th century showed us, ideologies -- whether communism, fascism or humanism -- matter and matter greatly.
But there is another truth: The reality of large, impersonal forces like geography and the environment that also help to determine the future of human events.
Enter shale, a sedimentary rock within which natural gas can be trapped. Shale gas constitutes a new source of extractable energy for the post-industrial world. Countries that have considerable shale deposits will be better placed in the 21st century competition between states, and those without such deposits will be worse off. Ideas will matter little in this regard.
Stratfor, as it happens, has studied the issue in depth. Herein is my own analysis, influenced in part by Stratfor's research. So let's look at who has shale and how that may change geopolitics. For the future will be heavily influenced by what lies underground
The United States, it turns out, has vast deposits of shale gas: in
This is, in part, troubling news for
States still has few capabilities to export shale gas to Europe. It would have to build new liquefaction
facilities to do that; in other words, it would have to erect plants on the
Gulf of Mexico that convert the gas into liquid so that it could be transported
by ship across the Atlantic, where more liquefaction facilities there would
reconvert it back into gas. This is doable with capital investment, expertise
and favorable legislation. Countries that build such facilities will have more
energy options, to export or import, whatever the case may be. So imagine a
future in which the United States
exports liquefied shale gas to Europe,
reducing the dependence that European countries have on Russian energy. The
geopolitics of Europe could shift somewhat.
Natural gas might become less of a political tool for Russia and more of a purely economic one (though
even such a not-so-subtle shift would require significant exports of shale gas
from North America to Europe).
Less dependence on
Russia would allow the
vision of a truly independent, culturally vibrant Central and Eastern
Europe to fully prosper -- an ideal of the region's intellectuals
for centuries, even as ideas in this case would have little to do with it.
This might especially be relevant to
It turns out that Australia also has large new natural gas deposits that, with liquefaction facilities, could turn it into a principal energy exporter to East Asia, assuming
The geopolitical emergence of
China also has significant deposits of shale gas in its interior provinces. Because
The countries that might conceivably suffer on account of a shale gas revolution would be landlocked, politically unstable oil producers such as
and South Sudan, whose hydrocarbons could
become relatively less valuable as these other energy sources come online. ,
especially, might in the future lose interest in the energy deposits in such
low-end, high-risk countries if shale gas became plentiful in its own interior. China
In general, the coming of shale gas will magnify the importance of geography. Which countries have shale underground and which don't will help determine power relationships. And because shale gas can be transported across oceans in liquid form, states with coastlines will have the advantage. The world will be smaller because of unconventional gas extraction technology, but that only increases the preciousness of geography, rather than decreases it.
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