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Tight Oil and Water: Climate Change and the Extractive Waterscape of Western Siberia

  • Owen King
Chapter
Part of the Water Security in a New World book series (WSEC)

Abstract

With conventional oil production declining in the Western Siberian Basin, Russia is incentivising the development of ‘tight oil’ reserves using hydraulic fracturing technologies. This chapter reviews the existing literature on two under-explored aspects of the unconventional hydrocarbons debate. First, that much of the research on the environmental and social implications of hydraulic fracturing for ‘unconventional oil and gas’ has focused substantively on shale gas. In particular, perspectives on the specific nature of tight oil and its extraction are notably scarce. Second, I argue that the increasingly apparent risks posed by the hydrological implications of climate change, extreme weather and the expansion of tight oil are worthy of much greater empirical attention.

The examples given in this chapter call attention to the specific materiality of tight oil and water, and the way in which water, nature and people mediate each other in an ‘extractive waterscape.’ Thus, the geophysical nature of tight oil is manifest in the intensity of production, and comes into conflict with the increasing intensity of hydrological dynamics. While this poses significant socio-ecological threats to indigenous livelihoods in Western Siberia, it is argued that water can play a key role in resistance. By placing the role of water in mediating cultural relationships with the land, at the centre of these struggles, indigenous space may be reclaimed. I conclude by highlighting three main areas for future research on the subject of tight oil extraction and water resources in the fields of the environmental sciences, physical and human geography.

Keywords

Hydraulic fracturing Unconventional hydrocarbons Tight oil Energy Russia Western Siberia Climate change Water Extreme weather Indigenous space 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Owen King
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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