by George Weir –
I had an experience this winter that reminded me once again that (one doesn’t miss something until it is gone). During the coldest part of the winter, my gas company, (by accident) had to discontinue the gas service to my town of about 5,000 residents, in which that left all but those that were all electric in the cold. During this time I found that I was very dependent on natural gas and life without it would present problems I didn’t want to entertain or even attempt to find another avenue of correcting the problem. I live in one of the largest gas producing areas of the country, and gas has always been something that everyone could depend on, but, I was brought to the realization that even by an accident, life could be brought to a stand-still when the power has been cut off, and when there was no alternate plan in place to replace that which was lost. It reminded me once again that (Oil and Gas) could be used as a powerful weapon in the hand of a nation that would chose to them as such. Oil and gas seems to be the weapon of choice for the Russians, and there is no doubt that future of oil and gas is looming large for the people in Europe. A whopping thirty percent of the oil and gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia, and the majority of this fuel comes through Ukraine, has now become a part of Russia. The prospect of future dependency of Russian oil and gas surly has EU scratching their heads wondering, what the price may be, or will the Russians turn of the picket and leave them in the cold of winter? I for one would not lie to live with this threat looming over my head, wondering will I have power tomorrow to run my business or heat my home. The experience I had this winter which left (much of my town in the cold) wasn’t due to a shortage, or a threat of any sort, it was due to a lack in judgment by some employee of the gas company by releasing water into a pipeline from the well-head, and needless to say, the water froze, and we were in the cold. In America, we have the assurance that the oil and gas company’s (actually want and need our business). If we pay our monthly bill, we have gas, until something unexpected happens and it is beyond the company’s ability to fix the problem just when we want it, but even then, we can rest assured that they are working on the problem. But to live under the threat that our supplier’s may (at their bidding) cut off the gas, and leave their customers out in the cold, that using oil and gas as a weapon, and no country should have to be subjected to such. But it has happened, in 2009 Russia cut off the gas to Ukraine and six others countries in the middle of winter, and millions were left out in the cold until they agreed to pay the higher cost, and this should be a reminder to the world that Europe is living under the threat of becoming a hostage to Russian Oil and gas, and we in the west seem to be mystified as to what we should do. The invasion by Russia into Ukraine should be a wake up call to America. America has made great strides due to the implications of greater recovery methods, such as the use of (fracking) which has enhanced the prospects of extracting from oil in shall, which has been used for years, but not to the degree that it is now used. America does have an abundance of natural gas, and our natural gas would be of great worth to Europe, it could liberate them from the prospects of being out in the cold if Russia should decide to cut their supply, but Russia isn’t likely to do that, they need to sell gas, but, they may decide to hike the price beyond what Europe could afford to pay, either way, Russia hold the larger weapon, (energy). Many in this country have entertained the idea of exporting Liquid Natural Gas,(LNG) or compressed natural gas,(CNG) and this could prove to be a game changer for Europe, but, this is not something that can be done overnight, and while Europe is waiting, Russia is expanding into more countries to their west. Crimea is now a part of Russia, and Ukraine is now in the poster of looking over their shoulder, just looking for the next move, and the rest of the world is also waiting for Russia’s next move, possibly into Ukraine or possibly into the Baltic, all we really now is, they are looking west, and why not, that is where their pipelines of gas are pointing, toward Europe. But we in America can’t just sit by and watch, we do have a signed agreement with the North Atlantic Treaty organization, NATO, which states, we have an obligation to help protect our ally’s in the treaty, so that leaves us binding to the promise which we signed. What we should do, I have no idea, but the current activities with the take over of Crimea should be a wake-up call for America, and remind us that we to must protect our vital interest in energy, and expand our reach into exploring the many uses of Natural Gas. America is on the threshold of energy independence and possibly an exporter of vital resources to our friends in Europe and other countries that are, or may be facing the threat of energy black-out, and possibly find themselves out in the cold. There is and old saying “ One doesn’t miss the water until the well goes dry” America is a (Can do) country, we just need to work together for a better tomorrow, for us, and the world.