In recent months, the competition between the United States and Russian energy sectors has become increasingly fierce. As the US ramps up its shale boom, Russia has tried repeatedly to secure its own future among European and Asian nations.
Over Easter weekend, however, Russia’s neglect of its oil and gas infrastructure came to a head when millions of barrels from Russia’s Druzhba pipeline were found to be contaminated with organic chlorides. These compounds are used to improve the efficiency of the extraction process; unfortunately, if they remain in crude oil after a certain point, organic chlorides can prove ruinous for refining equipment.
The Druzhba incident wrought havoc for refiners in Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Over the next 10 days, European customers cut imports of Russian oil by as much as a million barrels a day.
As of May, pipeline owner Transneft remained silent about how it will address the issue.
The US Response
To suggest that the contamination issue is unique to Russia would be wrong. The United State has also seen some of its tankers turned away for similar problems. The difference, however, is the response to customer complaints.
Where Russia’s state-owned Transneft has remained quiet, the US government has begun to take action. In early April, Donald Trump signed two executive orders designed to improve and enhance the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure.
The first protects pipeline projects throughout the country from interference from local governments. The second creates an avenue for speedier approval of international pipelines by transferring authority over such choices directly to the President.
Though the orders met with the expected amount of criticism from Trump’s political opponents, the President remained committed to the decision. “Too often, badly needed energy infrastructure is being held back by special-interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies and radical activists,” he said.
Preserving the Future of Oil and Gas
Let’s be honest, here: the oil and gas underneath the United States’ soil isn’t a considerable amount when compared to the rest of the world. The US has the fifth largest natural gas reserves and the tenth largest reserve of crude oil. The most oil-rich countries on Earth have something close to ten times the amount of oil found in the United States to date.
The United States’ power on the international scene lies not in the amount of our reserves, but in our ability to extract, transport, refine, and export oil and gas quickly, efficiently, and — as it happens — cleanly.