NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

North America: The New Energy Kingdom

December 16, 2010

The American Petroleum Institute reports that the United States produced more crude oil in October than it has ever produced in a single month.  This reversal of trend helps explain why U.S. domestic production for the year will be 140,000 barrels a day higher than last year (which was 410,000 barrels a day higher than 2008), according to Neil Reynolds.

Could these numbers reflect the beginning of the end for U.S. dependence on Mideast oil?  Well, in fact, they could.  An article last month in the New York Times observed: "Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia.  In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation."

With rising production from shale fields, the U.S. surpassed Russia last year to become the world's largest supplier of natural gas, says Reynolds.

  • Shale now accounts for 10 percent of the country's natural gas production -- up from 2 percent in 1990.
  • Chesapeake Energy's production from its next Texas project, expected by the end of 2012, will by itself supply the energy equivalent of 500,000 barrels of oil a day.
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the country's proven reserves of crude rose last year by 9 percent to 22.3 billion barrels.

For natural gas, the United States has the four largest fields in the world.  The EIA reports that proven U.S. reserves of natural gas increased last year by 11 percent to 284 trillion cubic feet -- the highest level since 1971.

America will almost certainly emerge as the world's biggest supplier -- and exporter -- of reasonably cheap energy, says Reynolds.

Source: Neil Reynolds, "North America: The New Energy Kingdom," Globe and Mail, December 9, 2010.

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