Ret. Admiral Dennis Blair Testifies on the Geopolitics of Shale

This morning, Admiral Dennis Blair of SAFE's Commission on Energy and Geopolitics testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, for a hearing entitled, "The Geopolitical Implications of the U.S. Energy Boom." Watch the full hearing here: Drawing on a wealth of knowledge from serving as Director of National Intelligence, as Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command, and as Co-Chair of SAFE's Commission on Energy and Geopolitics, Blair's testimony touches on how conventional wisdom among energy and national security experts has been upended by the domestic oil boom over the past five years. Ultimately, he emphasizes that although a wide range of market observers, policymakers, and other commentators have suggested that today's shifts in energy market dynamics will result in major changes in global economics and regional security dynamics, and potentially enable the United States to disengage militarily from volatile oil-producing regions, the domestic oil boom is far from a cure-all for our current national security challenges. To read Blair's full testimony, click here. Much of Blair's testimony was derived from the findings of “Oil Security 2025: U.S. National Security Policy in an Era of Domestic Oil Abundance,” the first detailed analysis of the impact of the U.S. oil production boom and other emerging global oil market trends on America’s national security. In the report, the Commission recommends a suite of policies to strengthen and protect U.S. interests in the current era of domestic oil abundance. The recommendations are focused on two paramount goals. First, the United States should increase the stability and flexibility of the global oil market. As both a major producer and consumer, the United States can and should take a series of steps in foreign and military policy to substantially reduce the likelihood and impact of crippling international oil supply interruptions and associated price spikes. Our foreign policy should prioritize long-term political stability in oil producing regions, and the technologies and policies that facilitated the U.S. oil boom should be shared where appropriate. Second, we must reduce American oil dependence. As new technologies and fuels enter the marketplace, the United States must develop a more competitive transportation market. A more diverse transportation sector would fundamentally disconnect the U.S. economy from the global oil market--no single step would be more effective for preserving U.S. national security and economic prosperity in the 21st century, or for maximizing the benefits of domestic oil production. Additional recommendations from the Commission on Energy and Geopolitics include:
  • Deepen global cooperation to protect key oil transit routes.
  • Continue U.S. technological engagement—especially through hydraulic fracturing technology—to help promote the development of oil and gas resources around the globe.
  • Rebuild a diplomacy-centered U.S. approach in the Middle East.
  • Fashion a reconfigured forward deployed posture based on flexible deployment of maritime and air forces to the Middle East, and a demonstrated capability to bring major forces forward when needed.
  • Support peaceful, evolutionary reform in autocratic Middle East oil-producing countries to develop more stable and, eventually, more democratic societies and governments.
  • As the United States completes the redeployment of major ground forces from Afghanistan, fashion a reconfigured forward deployed posture in the region.
  • Enhance Sino-American cooperation on development of tight oil in China and involve China in maritime security operations to protect oil shipping. (If Chinese actions become confrontational, then these recommendations will be neither advisable nor practicable).
  • Continue to promote the use of alternative transportation fuels, particularly electricity and natural gas, in addition to improved fuel efficiency.
  • Establish guidelines for the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and evaluate its proper size based on those criteria.
Read the full report: Oil Security 2025: U.S. National Security Policy in an Era of Domestic Oil Abundance.