Tuesday, December 11, 2012

US will soon be world's largest oil producer, and then a net exporter, reversing the trend of the 1970s

The United States will become the world’s largest oil producer by 2017 (replacing Saudi Arabia and easily swamping countries like Venezuela and Nigeria), and a net oil exporter by 2030, according to a report issued by the International Energy Agency.

The report is titled the “World Energy Outlook 2012”, eight pages, and may be viewed here. It looks as though the IWA sells books on this matter giving more detail, and I’ll look more into this.

Elisabeth Rosenthal reported this in the New York Times on November 12, 2012, link here

That sounds like a boon for the economy (oil and gasoline prices) and for national security.  In the 1970s, independence from foreign oil became a big political goal (for Jimmy Carter) that was never fulfilled easily.
New technology, including fracking, shale, and deep recovery, made economically feasible when oil prices stay over about $80 a barrel, are offering the US its long sought energy independence, and seem to be putting off the days of reckoning for “peak oil”.

The main challenge may be producing and consuming the oil in an environment in which it is necessary to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Future security problems could be more related to the climate issue (flooding in poor countries) availability of fuel itself.   Back in 1982, there was even a TV film that postulated that “World War III” could start on the Alaska pipeline.  Other security problems will relate to the security of the power grid itself – one of our most dangerous vulnerabilities. 

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