Monday, November 12, 2012
USA Could Be World Oil Production Leader By 2020
The assessment contrasts with last year when it envisioned Russia and Saudi Arabia vying for the top position. The report says North America could become a net oil exporter around 2030.
This shift will be driven primarily by the faster-than-expected development of hydrocarbon resources locked in shale and other tight rock formations that have just started to be unlocked by a new combination of two technologies: hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
The IEA's projections show U.S. oil production peaking in 2020 at 11.1 million barrels a day, up from 8.1 million barrels a day in 2011. Within a decade, the IEA forecasts that U.S. oil imports will drop by more than half to just four million barrels a day, from 10 million barrels a day currently. Much of this decline will be because of higher domestic production, but efforts to improve energy efficiency in the transport sector will also prove significant, the IEA said.
Shale oil and gas are extracted by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to crack rocks open, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
But the intensive use of water, "will increasingly impose additional costs," and could "threaten the viability of projects" for shale oil and gas, and also biofuels, the agency said. (WSJ, 11/12/2012)