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U.S. natural gas could be geopolitical weapon

Men work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 18, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania.

Pro-fracking lawmakers on Capitol Hill see the Ukraine-Russian conflict as a chance to introduce legislation to fast-track U.S. natural gas exports. They argue that Ukraine and Europe depend heavily on Russian natural gas, which allows Russia to bully the region.  Lessening their dependence on Russian energy could help weaken Vladimir Putin’s hand.

Over the years, Russia has effectively used natural gas as a political weapon.  “We don’t like what you’re doing politically so we’re going to cut off your gas supplies,” says Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group. “We don’t like what you’re doing so we’re going to double your prices.”

(Also see: Business Insider's visual breakdown of Europe's dependency on Russian natural gas.)

It wasn’t that long ago that America believed it was running out of natural gas.  During the Bush administration, officials were actively engaged in a push to create LNG import facilities.  Now the U.S. is poised to overtake Russia as the top natural gas producer.

But energy analysts warn that LNG exports aren’t a quick fix for the crisis in Ukraine.  After all, it would take several years to build the export infrastructure here in the U.S.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk.

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