Accepted Paper:

Shale gas development and owned hydrocarbon futures: the temporal power of volatile infrastructures, unruly materialities and conspiracies  


Anna Szolucha

Paper short abstract:

I explore how a particular configuration of power based on the appearance of a predetermined hydrocarbon future was created out of a heterogeneous set of circumstances surrounding shale gas development. The analysis points also to multiple temporalities that unsettled the narratives of control.

Paper long abstract:

I explore how the power of the hydrocarbon futures has been created on the ground of shale gas activities in the UK and Poland. How is it possible that the future in those localities seems to be predetermined and out of reach for the local residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing? The development of unconventional resources in recent years has to be analysed as a key element contributing to the continuing power of hydrocarbon futures. What work is required to control the future in this way?

Shale gas developments in Europe have not moved beyond the exploration phase and it remains uncertain whether they ever will so the future of fracking is at the same time purely abstract and speculative as well as laden with the heaviest socio-political imaginaries. On the most basic level, shale gas developments and the attendant hydrocarbon futures can appear as predetermined/owned through the local work required to: build and maintain fracking infrastructures despite the unruly materialities on the ground and sustain shale gas as a viable and desired energy option in the face of popular resistance. I explore the formal and informal politics of time involved in the ontology of managing and contesting the hydrocarbon future by rendering visible the affective power of shale gas infrastructures, conspiracy stories and the unruly materialities of the subsurface.

I analyse these dynamics by drawing on three years of ethnographic and documentary research in Lancashire and the region of Grabowiec in Poland.

Panel Time02
Resource temporalities: anticipations, retentions and afterlives