WASHINGTON, Nov 8: A boom in gas production will reshape the US role in Asia and could fuel new tensions with a growing, energy-hungry China, a new report says.

US foreign policy has historically been based largely on demand for outside energy, with Washington closely allying itself with oil-rich Arab monarchies.

But a major increase in gas production – in part through the controversial practice of “fracking” deep underground – has given the US the prospect not just of energy independence but of playing a Middle Eastern-style strategic role as an exporter, according to industry forecasts.

A report by the Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research predicted soaring demand from the continent for imported gas. Despite rapid growth, Asia relies on natural gas for just 11 per cent of its energy use, far lower than the 30pc global average, the study said.

The United States, Canada, Australia and Norway – could control 40pc of the world’s natural gas supply by 2020, said Nikos Tsafos, an expert at consultancy PFC Energy who contributed to the report. “If you’re sitting here in Washington, D.C., that could seem like a good thing. If you’re sitting in Beijing, you may not think so,” he said at the launch of the report in the US capital.

Tsafos expected that China’s suspicions of US intentions would grow, pointing to the backlash in Beijing when US lawmakers’ concerns about national security led China to drop a bid to acquire former US oil giant Unocal in 2005.—AFP

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