The latest conspiracy theory involves Russia, the U.S., and a little thing called natural gas.
Rumor has it that Moscow is bankrolling a campaign to ruin America’s plan to become energy independent and reap the benefits of exports and trade with Europe. In this scenario Russia would be a big loser.
Until recently, the once unthinkable concept of energy independence in America was not a concern. Now with the innovative and game changing technique of hydraulic fracturing the U.S. is predicted to have energy supplies for at least the next 99 years.
Russia has a lot to lose if the U.S. decides to export supplies. Russia was exporting vast quanties to Europe and other countries for about $10 per unit. The current price is the U.S. is $3 per unit. The potential for savings based on U.S. prices has heads turning in the energy areana, the political arena, the business arena, and the world arena.
Surely, European governments are salivating while imagining a future with cheap natural gas supplied by the U.S. Russia would be sidestepped, and that would be a devastating blow to its energy corporation Gazprom. Gazprom, based in Moscow, had $44 billion in profits last year. Its most recent financial report indicated that profits had dropped by almost 25 percent.
Most recently, Gazprom put off plans to develop an arctic gas field because of its lackluster profit margin.
The U.S. is already examining the strategic potential. Presidential candidates have both recognized the potential for energy independence for the U.S. and for exportation to European nations. Mitt Romney has actually said he “will pursue policies that work to decrease the reliance of European nations on Russian sources of energy.” Obama said the U.S. will be able to “cut our oil imports in half by 2020.”
Other countries are also recognizing their potential for energy independence from Russia. Poland’s Ministry of the Environment has indicated that increased production of natural gas in Europe will lead to a decreased of importation from Russian pipelines.
Gazprom executives have been quoted saying they aren’t worried quite yet. One said he doesn’t believe that U.S. fuels would make an important impact on Europe. He said he doesn’t expect abnormally low prices to last in America. He thanked America for taking a lobbying effort for shale gas to levels that will expand the market for Russia. He believes that Russia will have more potential with an expanded market because of its reserves. As far as the U.S. becoming the major gas exporter, he said the idea is questionable. And he is right. Exportation involves a mix of politics, numbers, and red tape.