Ukraine — fracking for natural gas goes global

March 12, 2014

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

A long-standing goal of the European Union (EU) has been to reduce its dependence on Russia for natural gas. In previous years, Russia cut off supplies in the middle of winter in a pricing dispute with Ukraine, adversely impacting much of Europe. Reducing gas imports has not occurred, and Europe continues importing 40 percent of its gas from Russia.

David Herron sees Ukraine involved in a geopolitical power struggle between the U.S., the EU and Russia over the control of natural gas supplies to Europe and which interests gain the right to frack for gas.

A report from the U.S. State Department’s “Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program” sheds more light on developments in the Ukraine. The program was developed by the Barack Obama administration and is charged with exporting hydraulic fracturing technology around the globe. The intent is to maintain the dominance of fossil fuels in global energy supplies.

According to Heron the political split in the Ukraine corresponds to the location of two relevant shale gas deposits in the country. One in the western portion leans toward Europe and the second in the eastern portion is more aligned with Russia.

In the eastern portion, the city of Kharkiv is central to a shale gas reservoir in the Dnieper-Donet basin. In the western portion, the city of Lviv is the second major shale formation in the Carapthian basin.

According to F. William Engdahl, shortly before Ukrainian President Vicktor Yanukovich was driven from office, EU delegates from Germany, France and Poland met with him, three opposition leaders and a Russian representative to reach an agreement to end the strife in Kiev. The negotiations did not include the United States. The agreement broke down a short time later as rooftop snipers began killing street demonstrators and riot police; soon after that, the opposition gained control over Kiev.

Democracy Now interviewed retired Professor Stephen Cohen regarding the involvement of an intercepted phone call among U.S. diplomats planning which opposition leaders would be put in power and how the Ukraine is a fulcrum in the geopolitical struggle between the West and East.

Another connection, according to Herron, is “Energy and Security from the Caspian to Europe,” a report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations with Chairman John Kerry. As head of the U.S. State Department, Kerry now leads efforts to export hydraulic fracturing technology. The Senate report discussed ways to bring oil and gas supplies from the Caspian Sea area to Europe without crossing Russian territory. Building pipelines across the Caspian into Turkey would accomplish that goal.

Shipping LPG obtained from the U.S. boom in fracking natural gas helps reduce European dependence on Russian gas. Dependency could also be reduced by allowing fracking in Europe and increasing the use of renewable energy, which would also help the EU reach its carbon reduction goals.

Six new U.S. LPG export facilities have been approved since 2010, and another 24 applications are in the pipeline. Increasing consumption of natural gas accelerates pollution and climate change and slows the growth of renewables.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail sonia@essex1.com.

From the March 12-18, 2014 print edition

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