Every year, the Energy Information Information Administration (EIA) releases its energy outlook, a survey of the global energy landscape with predictions for the future. This year’s report included two scenarios involving an energy self-sufficient America, something that wouldn’t have been within the realm of imagination even ten years ago. Though they exist on the fringe of possibility, the scenarios “high oil and gas resources” and “no net imports” show, as the FT reports, just how much shale energy has transformed the energy landscape:
[These two scenarios] forecast a massive decline in US oil imports – and even the shift to net exports – between now and 2040. The International Energy Agency has already touted the idea of net oil exports from North America – combining the US and Canada – but the new report only considers America.
The US first became a net oil importer in 1946 and since then the reliance on foreign sources has been a matter of national security. The degree of dependence peaked at 60 per cent in 2005. Since then, lower demand due to the impact of high oil prices and the economic crisis, combined with booming domestic production on the back of the shale revolution, have lowered net imports to 41 per cent of consumption.
For the better part of a century, the experts have warned that dependence on foreign oil could cripple the US. Eliminating dependence on foreign oil has been a campaign calling card but never a realistic goal. It likely still isn’t, both because the two aforementioned EIA scenarios are extremely optimistic, and because complete energy independence is a myth as long as America is powered by such a highly traded commodity as oil.
But while it’s probably not a realistic endpoint, it’s still worth striving for. Continuing to invest in our energy infrastructure will ensure that we get the most out of our shale resources.
[OPEC headquarters photo courtesy of Getty Images, Obama image courtesy of Shutterstock]