Many environmentalists have voiced concerns about the consequences of fracking. Now they are joined by a billionaire Saudi prince — who is concerned for a different reason.
Fracking is the process by which deep underground rock formations are broken up to free trapped natural gas, oil, and other fossil fuels. It has produced a nascent oil boom in eastern Ohio and other parts of the United States that are home to shale formations where the fossil fuels are found.
The Saudi prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, is worried because he thinks the increased oil and natural gas production that has been caused by fracking threatens the Saudi Kingdom’s economy, which is almost wholly dependent on oil production. The outspoken prince is a bit of a rogue element in Saudi Arabia, but his point is irrefutable: If demand from the United States declines due to the availability of domestic shale oil production, it will inevitably have an impact on suppliers. Two OPEC countries, Nigeria and Algeria, have already seen a sharp decline in U.S. imports of their oil.
For years, America has talked about the importance of breaking its dependency on middle Eastern oil — a result that also would reduce the pressure on America’s deep involvement in all of the geopolitical issues that are found in that troubled region of the world. America’s shale oil and natural gas reserves are believed to be enormous and, as Prince Talal notes, may allow us to achieve that goal. As we address the issues surrounding oil shale production in our country, we need to keep that fact in mind.