By Joyce Hale
With fireworks exploding and flags waving, the country has proudly celebrated its 236th year of independence. Our country’s 1776 yearning for separation from England has now morphed into today’s yearning for independence from foreign oil dependency.
Few Americans have heard much about who actually owns the natural gas leases in the United States. It would be natural to assume U.S. companies and citizens are in control. While that may be true for now, foreign investors are gaining ground to direct this energy resource onto the world market. Other countries are willing to pay much higher rates because their natural gas prices, unlike our pricing method, are tied to the price of oil.
As we become more concerned about self-sufficiency, sustainability and national security, it is amazing our domestic gas industry has been allowed to sell large holdings to foreign interests to cover their bank loans and production costs. Even when people hear who is buying up leases, they are not likely to realize the country that company calls home. Most assume, with gas reserves in more than 30 states, our domestic energy supply will be available well into the future. If currently applied-for permits to create liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals are granted, our future supply and today’s low prices will change radically.
What does the overall inventory of foreign ownership look like today? A race to add energy reserves to dwindling oil stocks has brought an international land rush to shale plays throughout our country.
While foreign interests first settled for minority shares in U.S. companies, some now obtain majority interests for full control. Chinese companies in particular are interested in buying the extraction process know-how for development of their own shale reserves. Our war for independence was fought to provide autonomy for the people of this country. How does that square with selling off energy resources that are clearly classified as strategic and needed for our national security?
s Report: “Energy Independence” Thwarted as U.S. Oil and Gas Heads Overseas (The Wilderness Society) http://wilderness.org/blog/report-energy-independence-thwarted-us-oil-and-gas-heads-overseas
s Foreign Investment, CFIUS, and Homeland Security: An Overview (Congressional Research Service) http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RS22863.pdf
s Chesapeake nears $3.4 Billion in Deals (The Wall Street Journal) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204621904577016322192566892.html
s Sinopec: Chesapeake’s Salvation? (Forbes) http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewhulbert/2012/06/20/sinopec-chesapeakes-salvation/
s Foreign Flurry (Bob Newell/Tribune-Review) http://wvhighlands.org/wv_voice/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ForeignFlurry1.pdf