Roundtable on shale gas and fracking: "Frack to the Future: NATO, MD, ICI and the Shale Gas Revolution", at the Centro Alti Studi di Difesa
On 19 September 2013, a roundtable entitled "Frack to the Future: NATO, MD, ICI and the Shale Gas Revolution" was held at the Centro Alti Studi di Difesa (CASD) in Rome. The event was organized by the NATO Defense College (NDC), in close collaboration between the Middle East Faculty, headed by its director Col. Giuseppe MORABITO (ITA), and the Research Division. To highlight the importance of the occasion, CASD President Admiral Rinaldo VERI and NDC Commandant Lieutenant General Arne Bård DALHAUG jointly chaired the day's proceedings.
The aim of the roundtable was to bring together a group of experts to specifically analyse how NATO partnerships are being impacted by these new developments.
Proceedings, divided into two sessions, were moderated by NDC Advisors Dr Brooke SMITH-WINDSOR (CAN), Dr Andreas JACOBS (DEU) and Col Daniel GILLESPIE, Ph.D. (USA), with concluding remarks by Dr Jean-Loup SAMAAN (FRA). The science and economics, as well as the geopolitics, of the shale gas revolution were thoroughly examined.
The particular choice of how to address the topic was not the event's only unique feature. Just as importantly, convenors and attendees alike benefited greatly from the expertise contributed by representatives of different institutions. Presentations were made by: Bruce BULLOCK (USA), Director of the Maguire Energy Institute; Marco ARCELLI (ITA), Managing Director of Enel Trade; Joe SABA (USA), from the World Bank Middle East Branch; Jamal ABDULLAH (FRA), Al Jazeera researcher; Nicola MAZZUCCHI (FRA), Director of Polemos Consulting and researcher at IRIS; Dr Theresa SABONIS-HELF (USA), Professor at the National War College of the United States; Dr Cécile MAISONNEUVE (FRA), Director of the Energy Programme at IFRI; and Dr Julijus GRUBLIAUSKAS (LIT), NATO Energy Security Advisor. Participants also had the pleasure of listening to a contribution by Dr Fabio INDEO (ITA), from CASD itself.
While Dr BULLOCK's and Dr ARCELLI's presentations focused on the technological aspects of shale gas exploration and production, Dr SABA spoke of a possible paradigm shift as a result of the shale gas revolution's economic impact. Other speakers analysed regional or national perspectives, with Dr ABDULLAH focusing on the Gulf states, Dr MAZZUCCHI examining a possible change in relations between China and the Gulf region, Dr SABONIS-HELF looking at US energy policy, and Dr MAISONNEUVE assessing prospects for Russia. NATO's possible role in relation to the opportunities and challenges created by shale gas was discussed by Dr GRUBLIAUSKAS, while Dr INDEO offered a valuable geopolitical appraisal of current trends and prospects.
It is evident that, with the new developments in shale gas extraction, a reversal of - or significant change in - the geopolitical status quo seems more and more likely. NATO's partnerships with the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative countries are becoming increasingly important on the international stage, and may be impacted by the future development of this new phenomenon. Bringing together expert knowledge from different high-level institutions is surely an essential basis for a better understanding of possible outcomes.
As Dr Jean-Loup SAMAAN very fittingly mentioned in his concluding remarks, “The conclusion is the introduction”. The ongoing discussion among scholars, researchers, economists, practitioners and diplomats has by no means run its course, and the roundtable has surely provided a timely stimulus for further work on this fascinatingly relevant topic.