America's energy revolution transforms international relations
Sceptics first suggested the upsurge in energy production would prove temporary, then that it would be limited to gas, and now that it will be contained by restrictions on U.S. oil exports or environmental campaigns to keep fossil fuels underground unburned.
Doubters say it cannot be repeated in other countries because of their very different geological conditions as well as political and commercial environments.
But the revolution's impact has spread far beyond the United States.
The United States is set to become a significant exporter of natural gas. It is already the world's fastest-growing exporter of gas liquids such as propane.
Coal exports have risen as the country's own power stations turn to cheaper gas. And U.S. refiners are becoming increasingly important exporters of diesel.
Energy trade is already finding ways around the patchwork of antiquated restrictions on exports of oil, gas and condensates.
At the same time, the United States depends less and less on imported energy, especially from outside North America.
In 2013, the country is expected to have imported the fewest barrels of crude oil since 1994.
Even that probably understates the speed of the transformation and its impact on the trade deficit. In real terms, the trade deficit in petroleum and related items in November 2013 was the narrowest for well over two decades.
The economic impact has been profound. Abundant supplies of cheap domestic energy are now a crucial source of competitive advantage compared with rival economies in Europe and Asia.
A decade ago, U.S. policymakers and commentators were worrying about the loss of manufacturing to China based on cheap labour.
Now cheap energy is encouraging talk of bringing some of that manufacturing back. By contrast, expensive energy and inefficient fuel consumption are a seen as a growing threat to China's competitiveness.
European manufacturers, too, worry they will be significantly disadvantaged by more expensive energy bills.
The energy revolution's impact on international relations has been even greater, and nowhere is it more visible than in the Middle East.
For years, the foreign policy establishments in both the United States and in capitals around the Gulf have insisted shale production will not loosen the close ties between Washington and its regional allies, especially Saudi Arabia.
But the scale of the shift has become too obvious to deny.
Speaking to a security conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Israel's outspoken Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon complained that the United States is "detaching" itself from the Middle East, according to reports carried in the Jerusalem Post.
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