Vladimir Putin, The Presidential Press and Information Office/Wikimedia Commons

The Truth Behind Vladimir Putin’s Flip-Flop on Shale

Russian President Vladimir Putin made headlines this week when he spoke out against shale development. In the grand tradition of everything Putin says, however, his newfound support of environmentalism is hardly trustworthy.

Shale is ‘Barbaric’

On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin gave a speech to a group of businesspeople in Moscow in which he decried the world’s growing reliance on shale. “Today’s technology of shale oil production and shale gas are without any doubt … barbaric,” stated the Russian president, adding, “These technologies destroy the environment.”

Though celebrated in some circles, Putin’s remarks are utterly hollow.

The Green-Eyed Monster

At the same time that Vladimir Putin was complaining about shale development, the U.S. Energy Information Administration that the United States’ shale output would rise to a record-breaking 9.13 million barrels of shale per day in December. It’s monumental production that has crippled Russia’s crude oil business over the last two years. 

The truth is, if Vladimir Putin knew how to extract his country’s shale properly, he would do so in a heartbeat. Before the U.S. shale revolution, Russia was considered an oil and gas powerhouse, home to some of the world’s largest oil companies. As the world has shifted toward cleaner-burning shale, however, Russia’s profits have been dwindling. 

Russia even tried to get into the shale game back in 2017, but sanctions imposed on the nation prohibited it from teaming with the U.S. companies that pioneered the shale explosion. As a result, Russia was unable to stay on the oil and gas cutting edge.

Vladimir Putin Doesn’t Care About the Earth

Then there’s Russia’s plan to combat climate change. Even as world governments and the oil and gas majors team up to cut their methane and carbon emissions, Russia has famously pledged to do basically nothing. Their environmental plan has been politely called “unambitious.”

The nation has pledged only to try to limit the growth of their output to 40 percent more than their current numbers. That means very little when the country you’re talking about is the fourth-largest polluter in the word. What’s more, most experts suggested the promise was half-hearted, at best. 

If the nation’s oil and gas trend continues the way it has, however, Russia’s limited growth may come about. Not because they wanted to, but because they’re losing ground in the ever-advancing international oil and gas market.

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