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article imageThe U.S. could become world’s top oil producer by 2020

By Raluca Besliu     Nov 13, 2012 in Business
According to a newly released International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the top oil producer by 2020, become a net exporter by around 2030 and almost entirely self-sufficient in energy by 2035.
The IEA claims that the key reason behind this dramatic change from oil importing to self-sufficient country comes primarily from the development of new extraction technologies, particularly fracking, which will boost oil and shale gas production, as well as from increasing fuel efficiency in the transportation sector. Moreover, the clean energy sector, especially wind and solar power, will also be contributing to this shift, as it is expected to continue expanding in the future.
However, fracking is currently a highly controversial practice, which involves blasting an amalgam of sand, water and chemicals into shale rock to release the oil and gas inside. Fracking has been linked to serious environmental consequences, such as ground water contamination, risks to air quality, which could have negative effects on human health, as well as earth tremors. Despite the already known and potential hazards, in the context of rising oil prices, fracking is considered by some American politicians a solution to exploit formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons and to reduce the U.S. dependency on oil imports.
The U.S. currently imports around 20 percent of its energy needs. The IEA predicts that the U.S. gradual move toward energy self-sufficiency will have significant geopolitical consequences an impact on the global energy trade. It is expected that its growing oil and gas production will lead the U.S. to become less interested in the Middle East. As a result, Middle Eastern oil-producing countries are expected to start focusing primarily on exporting to and securing safe and strategic routes toward the Asian markets.
By 2035, global energy needs are expected to rise by a third, with China, India and the Middle East accounting for around 60 percent of the new demand.
The IEA report warns that the newly-developed technologies and policies implemented in the U.S. and other countries are failing to ensure that the global energy system can start heading on a more sustainable path.
More about United States, Oil and gas, global energy production
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