Foreign Policy Blogs

Plotting Out North America’s Shale Boom

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.

  • Richard Basas

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited China this past week to create stronger ties between Chinese and Canadian energy industries. This was a response to the lack of interest in Canadian oil coming from the United States. In the end the price of oil is going up slowly as conflict in the Persian Gulf heats up and an embargo on Iran’s oil is gaining momentum. Iran this week pre-emptively banned sales of its oil to 6 EU countries after those countries announced an embargo to take effect starting in June. It is important to consider the political economy of oil along with the assessment above. All information is very useful, especially the info. presented in this post. Very interesting post Sean..Cheers!


Sean Goforth
Sean Goforth

Sean H. Goforth is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His research focuses on Latin American political economy and international trade. Sean is the author of Axis of Unity: Venezuela, Iran & the Threat to America.