Return of shale? Scenarios for the Trump administration

LNG carrier with first shipment of U.S. shale gas arrives in Japan
The first shipment of liquefied natural gas from U.S. shale producers arrives at Chubu Electric Power Company thermal generator in Niigata, Japan (source: dpa)
  • Shale gas exports to Asia are a win-win for the Trump administration
  • They boost investment in U.S. infrastructure and Washington’s international clout
  • The biggest gains may be to bolster ties with China and disarm Russia’s gas weapon

Among its many early initiatives, President Donald Trump’s new administration has shown its determination to eliminate most, if not all, of the restraints on energy policy imposed by its predecessor. President Barack Obama’s regulations about the Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines are being repealed, along with numerous other, similar restrictions on the domestic and foreign activities of energy companies.

This comes at a time when Brent crude prices are rising (to $54 a barrel as of this writing), in part due to OPEC’s agreement with Russia to cut production. In consequence, the opportunity for the United States to assert its comparative advantage in shale and export shale oil and gas (in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG) has grown. Even when prices had declined to $30-$40, many U.S. shale producers were able to stay afloat. The subsequent recovery in prices has encouraged many others to return to the market.

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