The U.S. is becoming an energy superpower. In the past, its dependence on Middle Eastern oil pushed the U.S. toward foreign interventions. Now, the U.S. is nearing energy independence. This year, it became the largest crude oil producer (surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia). Moreover, American liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity is rising rapidly. Recently, two U.S. companies signed LNG deals with Poland’s national gas company PGNiG (Poland still relies on Russia for two-thirds of its natural gas).
What does this mean?
Facing hegemonic decline, the U.S. is increasingly ‘weaponizing’ its assets (e.g. currency, trade, sanctions, technology, energy). In the case of energy hegemony, unlike many traditional energy superpowers (e.g. Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela), U.S. strategy is not solely dictated by its government (i.e. private companies sign deals). However, legislation around the American shale revolution has pushed exploration ahead (i.e. Congress has allowed drilling in the Arctic for the first time in 40 years), and the administration has preached “energy dominance”. Furthermore, American energy politics symbolizes the country as a sea power, as LNG is exported overseas by private enterprises within a decentralized system (i.e. countries can more easily switch between exporters). Pipelines (underground, a centralized system) are the product of land powers such as Russia, Turkey and Iran. Indeed, energy hegemony, similar to other domains (e.g. security, political order, values), pits sea powers against land powers.
As the U.S. weaponizes its assets, a world of shifting alliances is emerging. As the U.S. clashes with Turkey, Poland is moving closer toward the American sphere of influence. Meanwhile, China is deepening ties with Russia and Iran in response to American energy hegemony. As we noted before, China, Russia, Iran and Turkey are also growing closer together in response to American sanctions. Indeed, the bigger story (besides energy politics pitting sea powers against land powers) is shifting alliances on the Eurasian landmass. This is the product of the U.S. reaction to its hegemonic decline, which not only risks destabilizing other countries such as Russia, Turkey, Iran and China (i.e. its intended goal), but also risks the integration of Eurasia, from Western Europe to China, which could accelerate American hegemonic decline.