Fracking isn’t only a problem in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania where it’s contaminating ground water or causing earthquakes. It’s potentially becoming a problem of a different sort for oil kingdom Saudi Arabia, where one of the billionaire heirs, Prince Alwaleed bin Talai, declared that the country’s economy is at risk from the disruptive potential of fracking that’s helping the U.S. become more energy independent through shale oil.
According to Sky News:
In an open letter to his country’s oil minister Ali al Naimi and other government heads, published on Sunday via his Twitter account, Prince Alwaleed said demand for oil from Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) member states was “in continuous decline”. […]
He added that the world’s biggest crude oil exporter should implement “swift measures” to diversify its economy.
The company has taken some steps recently to develop new sectors, like aviation and tech, but according to the Prince’s letter, 92% of the country’s budget currently depends on oil.
Sky reports that earlier this month, “OPEC forecast demand for its oil in 2014 would average 29.61 million barrels per day down 250,000 barrels per day from 2013. It cited rising non-OPEC supply, especially from the U.S.”
It’s the kind of news that may make energy independence hawks happy. Moving the U.S. off of foreign oil could quickly make autrocratic petro-states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia irrelevant players in global affairs. But the current alternative–fracking for shale oil–poses a whole new set of challenges on the domestic front.