Friday, March 19, 2010

Iran's Gas, Our Energy Security, Etc.

I recently read an interesting article about the strategic importance of Iran's natural gas reserves.  The article argues that natural gas, not oil, will be the most important fuel source this century and Iran, with its substantial reserves, will be the Saudi Arabia of energy supply going forward.  The article discusses the tenuous relationships between major international powers, especially Russia and China, and how the U.S. might be on the outside looking in where it concerns Iran's gas.

I also believe that gas will supplant oil as the dominant 21st century fuel because of its large supply and the fact that it is available throughout the world.  But as much as the U.S. should be concerned about Iran's activities, it should also be putting the same level of resources and support behind the development of natural gas in North America. 

Unfortunately, that runs counter to the free market system of letting the market pick the right fuels at the right prices.  But I would argue that there is more to it than market economics.  In many ways we have become so used to the global economy that we have outsourced too much.  It is almost like colonialism in that we rely on others manufacture our goods, extract fuel for our use and even answer our phones in call centers.  The good news: North America has lots of natural gas.  We have to realize the strategic importance of our natural gas, both for environmental quality and national security. 

While we will not achieve full energy independence - that's not a rational goal at this point - we can exert greater control over our energy future if we commit to supporting and advancing a balanced approach to domestic drilling.  That means both citizen and governmental support as well as a commitment from energy companies that they are willing to drill for oil and gas in an environmentally responsible way as possible.  E&P companies need to invest in R&D to advance extraction technology to minimize impacts, thus giving the citizens of our country reason not to fear energy development.  Ultimately, it is about stakeholders, not shareholders. 

North America has a tremendous opportunity with natural gas.  Let's not waste it.

No comments: