The ability of the United States military to rely almost exclusively on the United States’ petrochemical industry for oil and gas needs for transportation, equipment, weapons systems, communication systems and uniforms is possible today because of the natural gas and oil industry.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (commonly called “fracking”) is a big reason why. The oil and natural gas produced by fracking produces petrochemicals to make thousands of household products, clothing, medical equipment and even things like electric cars and solar panels – plus uniforms, equipment and weapons systems for our military.
Thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, we can produce all of the fuel and petrochemical feedstocks for our troops. Our nation is now the leading oil and gas producer in the world, and we can fuel and equip our military without OPEC or Russian imports. Many experts predict we will pass Saudi Arabia next year in oil and gas exports.
Yet there are Americans working hard to ban or restrict hydraulic fracturing. Environmentalist groups succeeded in getting hydraulic fracturing banned in most of Europe a few years ago. Europe will now get most of its natural gas through two 48-inch pipelines from Gazprom, a Russian company, and from Russian wells that have all been fractured under Russian environmental law. They pay Gazprom’s prices, which are a lot higher than U.S. natural gas prices.
Almost every well worldwide requires hydraulic fracturing. Russia fracks, China fracks as well as the OPEC nations. Europe doesn’t frack. Instead, they buy their fracked gas from Russia at a price 3-4 times higher than we pay in the USA. They are generating revenue for Russia to spend on weapons to use against them. If it gets cold in Moscow or if a little political pressure needs to be applied, there is nothing stopping Russia from closing the valves.
Last winter, Russian “fracked gas” showed up in Boston Harbor to heat homes because New York and other New England states though U.S. pipelines and “U.S. fracked gas” were bad. New Englanders paid over $100 per MCF for this Russian fracked gas. The wellhead price of US natural gas that we use is around $3.
New rules and regulations are threatening to strangle the new fracking industry. Could it be that the United States will end up like the United Kingdom? The U.K. has made fracking rules so stringent that in more than four years, it has yet to produce any oil and gas.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of the petrochemicals firm Ineos, accused the British government of abandoning its future.
“They are playing politics with the future of the country,” says Ratcliffe. “We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy. The government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable U.K. onshore gas industry.”
There is only one fracking company in the U.K. and it has had to repeatedly stop operations due to environmental issues. The U.K. regulations have been so robust that it has yet to produce any significant amount of oil and gas to supply its troops – which will have to rely on foreign supplies.
That means when British troops go into battle, their country may be paying for the military hardware of their enemies by buying their oil and gas. Let’s hope our country does not follow the same path.
Greg Kozera, the president of Learned Leadership LLC and the director of marketing for Shale Crescent USA. (www.shalecrescentusa.com) He is a professional engineer and an environmentalist with more than 35 years of experience in the natural gas and oil industry. He also is the author of the books Just the Fracks Ma’am and Learned Leadership. Kozera is a past president of the Virginia Oil & Gas Association (an all-volunteer organization).