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Global Resources News examines the conflict over commodities and resources such as oil, water, land and minerals. We cover the competing interests of trade, local society and environmental concerns.

Our coverage is based on well-documented data about these issues, drawing on authoritative sources, describing these conflicts over commodities in a neutral tone.

We hope you will use this information to assess risks about the conflicts over commodities and use that assessment to guide your decisions in the fields of oil, gas, shale, land, food and other commodities.

World Shale Plays Face Water Risk

Shale plays mapped against water risk
Source: World Resources Institute
As shale gas extraction expands around the world, producers face risks of working in areas that are either dry or have high water stress, a new report says.

Lack of water or problems using it could create serious business risks for drillers attempting to use hydraulic fracturing techniques to extract shale gas, said the shale-water stress report, issued by World Resources Institute.

About 38% of the areas with shale gas potential experience dry conditions or high water stress level. Also, 40% of the top 20 countries rich in shale natural gas potential face arid or water stress conditions, the report said.

Shale-Water Risk

The WRI report based its measure of water risk on seven factors. A key indicator is the baseline water stress, which is the ratio of water withdrawals to the amount of renewable surface water supplies.

Water risk for shale, as measured by WRI, can also include: seasonal variation in water supply; drought severity; groundwater depletion rates; population density and the nature of the shale gas deposit.

China: Much Shale Gas, Less Water

China is particularly squeezed in its shale-water nexus. The country has estimated shale gas reserves of 1,115 trillion cubic feet. Yet 61% of the areas in China with shale gas are arid or face some form of water stress.

China, the largest fast-growing economy in the world, is a major consumer of natural gas. Its proven gas reserves, largely conventional plays, is about 155 trillion cubic feet. The US Dept. of Energy said China produces 3.8 Tcf per year and may increase production to 10 Tcf by 2040.
Read more on the WRI report on water risks for shale gas potential.

News about Commodities, Conflict and Sustainability

Get All Articles Archives
Ukrainian Energy at Crossroads
Ukraine looks to its future,
but Russia also faces challenges.

Renewables to Top Gas: IEA
Renewable energy will surpass
natural gas in developed countries

Smog Spreads in Southeast Asia
Wildfires in Indonesia spread
unhealthy smoke across region

Air Quality Improvements Uneven
Some air quality metrics have improved, but many still lag.

Spotlight: Middle East Conflict

Influx of Syrian refugees stretches Jordan's water resources
The Washington Post

Syrian refugees use 35 liters per day, six times as much water as Jordanians an official says.

The Ecology of Economics

Open Data Tracks Environmental Work
Read the full story at
With $700 billion planned for climate change investments, a way is needed to monitor the environment and related projects. Mapping, satellite imagery and open data are being used to provide information, this PBS report says.

See other summaries in our archive

InfoChannels: Key Facts about Key Issues

Conflict over Oil

Map of oil producing countries that export to the United States and their political, peace and stability status rankings.
The US gets 60% of its imported oil from countries
which are not free nor stable. Click on map for more details.
The world economy pumped 87 million barrels of oil a day in 2011, up from 84 mlllion in 2007. With emerging economies demanding more petroleum to fuel their growth, oil producers are turning to more difficult conditions and hostile territories for their exploration and production.

The increasing difficulties in maintaining high production rates is the key metric in this conflict. Although the earth may contain billions of barrels of oil or similar hydrocarbons, it is only the amount that can be extracted in a timely fashion that is use to economies and societies. There have been many examples of this extraction rate going into decline after a high point, a phenomenon called "Peak Oil." The United States experience Peak Oil in the early 1970's. As other countries, and ultimately the world as a whole, go into Peak Oil phases, competition is expected to become more intense.

The map to the right shows the political status of countries which export oil to the United States. The green countries are assessed as 'free' by the think tank Freedom House. The yellow countries are 'partly free' and the purple are 'not free.' The United States gets 60 percent of its foreign oil from countries which are neither free, peaceful nor stable. Click on the map to enlarge it and for a table and its accompanying story.

Extreme Weather

Extreme weather includes drought, which deprives plants of water necessary for life, and tornadoes which destroy homes. Climate Change is among the factors driving extreme weather.
The first years of the 21st Century have seen unusual hurricanes, tornado swarms, floods and droughts descending upon natural areas, croplands and cities.

Some say it is a largely a manifestation of man-made climate change; others attribute it to natural variability and periodic trends of the earth. And there is the argument that it is some of both.

Whatever the cause, extreme weather is causing thousands of deaths and destroying billions of dollars of property and crops. Coastlines are impacted by sea level rise, even at the rate of a few millimeters a year.

This channel helps you stay informed about the issues and ramifications of extreme weather.