Nov 162012
 

Before the close of the decade, the United States could become the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), increasing domestic production combined with domestic energy efficiency could leave the country “all but [energy] self-sufficient.” The U.S. could even become a net oil exporter by 2030, shifting a trend that has been a hallmark in the energy debate for decades.

Last year, about 60% of crude oil processed in U.S. oil refineries was imported from other countries. While a significant amount of crude oil and refined petroleum is also exported, in 2011 America still faced a 45% net import level.

But, this 45% level was actually the lowest seen in the U.S. since 1995. Thanks in large part to the shale oil boom, the country has been able to increase its total oil production since 2008, a fact cited several times by President Obama during his re-election campaign. Coupled with the Administration’s successful bid for increased vehicle efficiency standards, the nation’s dependence on oil from the Middle East could be drastically diminished. According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012 report, “by around 2020, the United States is projected to become the largest global oil producer,” over-taking Saudi Arabia and allowing the country to become a net oil exporter by 2030.

U.S. natural gas production is a similar story, though with an ever shorter timeline. Hydraulic fracturing, despite concerns regarding groundwater contamination, has caused a surge in domestic natural gas production. As a result, the country could surpass Russia and become the world’s largest natural gas producer in just 5 years.

According to Fatih Bitol, IEA’s chief-economist “[the] foundations of the global energy systems are shifting.” But, the orgaization is quick to say that this shift is mixed news with respect to growing environmental concerns surrounding global climate change.

Read more . . .

via Scientific American –  Melissa C. Lott
 

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