Shale gas is giving a big boost to America’s economy
Now shale contributes a third of America’s gas supplies. The rise has been helped along by a variety of factors, such as the liberalisation of access to existing pipelines by third parties, a deep and liquid gas market that allowed the risks of drilling to be hedged, ready access to capital, America’s home-grown oil industry and the entrepreneurial zip that provided the men and equipment.
Gas has wrought some remarkable changes. Over the past five years America has recorded a decline in greenhouse-gas emissions of 450m tonnes, the biggest anywhere in the world. Ironically, given its far greater effort to tackle climate change, the European Union has seen its emissions rise.
Cheap gas is also helping other parts of America’s economy. The biggest winner might be the petrochemicals industry. It gobbles up gas as feedstock to make chemicals such as methanol and ammonia, a vital ingredient of fertiliser. These chemicals in turn provide cheaper raw materials for carmakers, agriculture, household goods and builders, or go for export at prices to compete with the world’s lowest-cost producers, the state-owned petrochemicals firms in the Middle East.
Les lobbys québécois qui s’opposent à l’exploitation des gaz de schiste peuvent seulement revendiquer un seul « exploit »: celui de nous avoir rendus plus pauvres…