The shale-gas industry is flourishing in the United States and West African crude oil exporters are being negatively impacted. Because of the “U.S. shale-gas revolution”, crude oil exports from Angola, Algeria, and Nigeria to the United States have fallen by over 40%. Thus far, this has led to a decrease in overall crude oil exports from these three countries; however, the increase in supply of sweet crude oil has led existing buyers to increase their purchases and allowed new buyers to enter the market.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process used to extract natural gas and oil. It involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals into wells with enough force to fracture shale, which causes the release of previously inaccessible natural gas or oil. Despite criticism for its negative impact on the environment, hydraulic fracturing is expanding in the United States. As a result, demand for foreign crude oil has declined.
Countries in Europe and Asia are also importers of West African oil and will likely take advantage of lower crude-oil prices. Analysts speculate that China will benefit the most because it will now have access to additional oil that at times has not been available because of the tight oil balance. China is currently the world’s largest energy consumer and needs increasingly more oil to fuel its growing economy.
Although it is probable that U.S. demand for West African oil will continue to fall, other countries will likely pick up the slack. Crude oil and other fossil fuels are finite resources, yet they are subject to almost infinite demand. This means that even though these exporters are slowly losing a key destination for oil exports, there is a good chance of recovery. Do you think that Angola, Algeria, and Nigeria will be able to recover from the decrease in U.S. crude oil imports? Feel free to leave a comment below.