By Jesús Chucho García
The fall in oil prices worldwide is already beginning to feel a notable weight in those countries where more than 90% of their income depends on the exploitation and sale of crude. If we had been in other times and in another context, the current wars or invasions of nations such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, among others, would have benefited the oil-producing countries, as happened in previous times. This time the context is different since western petromonopolists have attacked and controlled those oil-producing countries opposed to them, as in other times were Libya, Iraq or gas producers such as Afghanistan. Likewise, large US oil companies invested heavily to create new technologies to achieve lower-cost, large-volume oil and gas production.
What is that shale pod?
Less than a month ago in Barlovento, a family asked me: “What is that shale? Is it a joke or what kind of thing is that? " Shale is a super powerful rock. It's like a kind of kryptonite, that imaginary stone that Superman's enemies used to weaken him, but this time it is to weaken the powerful Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and those energy-autonomous countries like Russia.
According to sources consulted, the shale “is a sedimentary rock rich in organic matter present in many areas of the world. It was not used as a gas source until a decade ago, when some US companies developed new techniques to fracture it and drill on the horizon. This "new technique allows to exploit natural gas reserves in the US that were previously inaccessible, now it is spreading" silently "around the world. Petroleum engineers and geologists go to Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania to learn how to extract gas from layers of a black rock called shale. "
What is Fracking?
To extract this gas, the technique used is called “Fracking or hydraulic fracturing. It is about drilling the earth's surface, a 4 thousand meter hole and blowing it up with explosives. Once exploded, a mixture of sand water and a cocktail of 600 highly toxic chemicals is put at 5,000 atmospheres of pressure and that manages to bring out the natural gas ”.
The consequences for the environment, water, atmosphere, health ... apparently are deadly for humans. Although the western mass media are saying that shale gas is less polluting and would reduce environmental pollution and slow down global warming ... but the protests of the environmental movements worldwide deny such benefits to stop the warming of the planet. But apparently the big transnational energy companies do not care at all whether the planet is warming or not. They only hope to accumulate wealth in a fast lane, but at the same time to bankrupt the petroleum economies. With this technique, countries such as the United States will become the world's leading shale gas power by 2017, thus dramatically reducing their oil dependence on Venezuela, Africa and the Arab countries. Everything indicates that large companies such as Exxon, Texaco and British Petroleum also aspire to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.
The shale became fashionable ... it is a fever This new exploitation “fatal” for nature has become a demonic fever as in its time was gold, then oil, uranium and coltan. In the United States, excavations have begun as they once did in the so-called Old West. "In the last five years, gas production from shale has spread to large areas of Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Colorado." Large energy companies begin to make alliances. Devon Energy is going to partner with Total, the French oil company and thus try to obtain authorization to carry out drilling in France.
“It is clear to everyone that it has enormous potential,” explains O claim Reinertsen, president of StatoilHydro, a Norwegian company with a strong interest in shale. "Some companies are leasing large pieces of land throughout Europe for exploitation, while carefully studying the geological maps of Asia and North Africa in search of other deposits."
On the other hand "China and India, which have growing economies and rely heavily on coal for electricity, appear to have great potential for gas production from shale."
It is urgent to build a dependent non-oil-gas model This situation of dependence on gas and oil, now with the emergence of shale and its Fracking technique, forces us to urgently search for alternatives in order to survive. Crises are good when you have clear and precise objectives, such as those that are being proposed under the leadership of President Maduro. We have been talking about building a new model of civilization, but the time has come to look for alternatives so that we can overcome this break with the rentier oil model.
It is time, as Pérez Alfonso, father of OPEC, told us almost thirty years ago, to break with oil dependence. It is good to reread to Pérez Alfonso his basic text “Sinking us in the devil's excrement”, or “The end of the party”, by Domingo Alberto Rangel. There are severe criticisms of the rentier model and suggestions to build a non-oil social model.