Every year, the US Department of Energy puts out a statistical analysis of the country’s oil and natural gas standing. How much we’re using, how much we’re buying, that kind of thing. This Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), which is produced by the DOE’s statistics branch, the Energy Information Agency, also includes a prediction on the country’s net oil and gas usage over the next few years. This year’s AEO had some pretty big surprises for not only the industry, but the entire world.
According to the United States’ Energy Information Agency’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016, the United States is set to become a net natural gas exporter before 2020. This forecast is actually a big update from last year, when the AEO2015 predicted that the United States would be an energy exporter by 2030. Thanks to some extremely large shale and oil deposits discovered in the past year, as well as the increasing efficiency of hydraulic fracturing within the nation’s borders, the United States is on its way towards a world where we do not rely on foreign powers to maintain our way of life.
If the projections are on point, industry experts suggest that while the United States’ oil output may decrease in 2017, by 2020 the national production should climb steadily thereafter, reaching as high as 11.3 barrels per day in 2040. What’s more, the price per barrel should also climb substantially in the coming years, to $77 a barrel by 2020. AEO2016 predicted that the price of oil would continue to rise thereafter.
Perhaps most promising is the predictions for natural gas output, which have been revised upwards. According to current estimates, US shale gas production should roughly double between 2015 and 2040.
The net projections are extremely promising for the United States’ bottom line in the coming years. Removing the need to import oil and gas from other countries would not only save the United States’ economy several hundred billion dollars a year, but it would mean a huge injection of cash into the local industries nationwide.
In addition, countless jobs that would be created in the United States’ manufacturing industry should the nation become oil independent. Extracting, transporting, and refining the oil or gas would require workers, for example. That’s to say nothing of the industries that rely on oil and gas to thrive.
Of course, there’s more to look forward to than a more prosperous nation. Oil independence for the United States could lead to a drastically altered geopolitical existence for us, as well. Less reliance on foreign countries to produce our energy would offer big time incentive for the United States to keep itself out of the geopolitical spotlight, a potential maneuver that could create some measure of stability for generations to come.
And it all begins with the continued increase in production within the oil and gas industry.