We’ve noticed a trend over the past few months: customers and stakeholders are starting to think about how American shale oil and gas will change the dynamics of international relations. Even a leading US environmentalist activist told us recently that the shale gas revolution might have an upside if the US shifted from its dependency on coal. However, he thought, it was more likely that the US would keep burning coal and would turn itself into a major hydrocarbon exporter.

This piece on slate.fr (in French — it’s from Foreign Policy but we missed the English original) considers the problem for Saudi Arabia. What if the US needs it less? According to one report, the US may produce more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020. The Kingdom’s rulers are sending mixed messages about how it will react and whether it will boost production or not. A Wikileaks American diplomatic cable suggests it may not be able to do so anyway as it has overestimated reserves by 40 percent. Foreign policy has — since the 1970s — been dominated by the need for secure and continuous access to oil from the OPEC countries. Any shift in the paradigm would change an important part of the way the world is run