Two weeks ago Wikistrat launched a simulation on North America’s energy bonanza. In case you’re wondering, Wikistrat is a firm that relies on a six-continent wide arsenal of analysts to stake out geostrategic scenarios, and the scope of its simulations are equally broad, at least at the start. For example:
What if current estimates of shale reserves prove overblown? In such a case Canada and the United States would’ve risked environment degradation of hundreds of communities, energy companies would’ve sunk billions of dollars into useless infrastructure, and years of scientific research into hydrocarbon fuel alternatives might be lost.
On the other extreme, shale might be the second coming of what Daniel Yergin once dubbed “Hydrocarbon Man.” Might large shale reserves in Latin America—especially Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay—touch off a not-so-friendly competition between the United States and China? Transport logistics give the US an overwhelming advantage in cooperation with Latin America’s gas firms, and China has its own trove of shale, so the potential for a great power struggle over shale in far-flung parts of South America may be deceptively low—for now.
Wikistrat’s gadflies are hashing out these two questions, along with roughly a dozen more scenarios regarding the future of shale. Stay tuned.