New Energy, New Geopolitics: Balancing Stability and Leverage

An assessment of how shale gas and tight oil in the United States is impacting energy, geopolitical and national security dynamics around the world.

CSIS – In early 2013, the CSIS Energy and National Security Program and the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies assembled a broad multi-functional team to explore how shale gas and tight oil in the United States is impacting energy, geopolitical and national security dynamics around the world, with the intention of providing policymakers with a structured way to consider the potential risks and rewards of the new shale gas and tight oil resources.

The result was the report, “New Energy, New Geopolitics: Balancing Stability and Leverage” which concludes:

  • Shale gas and tight oil have had important impacts on the global energy sector. It has changed energy trade flows, altered the investment outlook for energy projects, reordered the climate change debate, and has helped change the energy posture of the United States, to name a few.
  • To date, the broader geopolitical impacts have remained limited. The uncertain trajectory of U.S. production, and even more uncertain, the potential for global production, make anticipating future impacts difficult.
  • So far, perception leads reality when it comes to geopolitical and national security impacts. Many countries are acting on early interpretations of the shale gas and tight oil trend.
  • A U.S. strategy for how to incorporate shale gas and tight oil developments into its current energy and national security strategies is still evolving. Going forward, U.S. policymakers face a choice between two strategic paths for managing shale gas and tight oil resources: “energy stability” or “energy leverage.”
  • This report concludes that “energy stability” is the most prudent and robust approach against a range of potential energy futures and recommends that the United States pursue policies that hew more closely to an “energy-stability” approach.

In addition to the summary for policymakers and report, CSIS will publish three contributing reports- one on energy, one on geopolitics and national security, and one of scenarios, strategies and pathways. These contributing reports will offer greater detail to the analysis provided in “New Energy, New Geopolitics: Balancing Stability and Leverage.”

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