Oil derricks like this one in Williston are a now-familiar feature of the North Dakota sky. Photo by Lindsey Gira/Flickr Creative Commons license.

Oil derricks like this one in Williston etch a now-familiar silhouette against the North Dakota sun. Thanks to fracking, the U.S. is on track to be the world’s No. 1 oil and natural gas producer this year. Photo by Lindsey Gira/Flickr Creative Commons license.

The International Energy Agency made headlines nearly one year ago with its bold forecast that the United States was on track to being the world’s top oil and natural gas producer by 2017. (See related, “U.S. to Overtake Saudi Arabia, Russia as World’s Top Energy Producer.”)

It turns out that the United States is fracking its way to the top far faster than the experts anticipated. The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Friday released figures showing that the United States will surpass both Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil and natural gas production this year. The release follows a Wall Street Journal analysis showing that the United States was on track to tap more natural gas than Russia this year for the first time since 1982.

The EIA’s figures chart the U.S. hydrocarbon boom in terms of energy content: Since 2008, U.S. production of oil has increased by 7 billion British thermal units (BTU), while production of natural gas is up 3 billion BTU, adding up to about a 25 percent increase in five years. Russia and Saudi Arabia also have increased their combined hydrocarbon output by about 1 quadrillion BTU over that time, but not enough to keep pace with the United States, particularly the hydraulic fracturing-driven boom in Texas and North Dakota. If the figures hold up, it will be the first time since 2002 that the United States has produced more oil than Saudi Arabia.

Weigh in with your own thoughts on how fracking has changed our energy future at The Big Energy Question.

See related:

The New Oil Landscape

Pictures: Bakken Shale Boom Transforms North Dakota

Interactive: “Breaking Fuel From Rock

The Great Shale Gas Rush

 

Comments

  1. Pete
    Ny
    January 13, 3:28 am

    Saudis have a terrible business plan and or forecaster. Prices should have been decreased tremendously at least 2 years ago in order to stop the freight train of gas conversions happening in the us. This is a snowball effect that would be almost impossible to reverse unless the price of heating oil dropped so much that it wouldn’t be worth looking for alternative sources. They definitely haven’t done their homework or have been asleep at the wheel. They have impacted us pretty badly and now will be shortly feeling an economic impact that will create a new system in which the world follows. There are massive multifamily and huge factory’s converting to gas everyday killing the oil demand and decreasing oil usage in the millions of gallons annually here. Oil is definitely an investment you want to stay away from quickly as it’s future is on the way to sleep forever

  2. Brendan W
    Antwerp, Belgium
    October 21, 2013, 7:49 am

    So 1 quadrillion is less than 10 billion (combined) now?

    “Russia and Saudi Arabia also have increased their combined hydrocarbon output by about 1 quadrillion BTU over that time, but not enough to keep pace with the United States”

  3. Ken T Lim
    Silicon Valley
    October 8, 2013, 12:14 am

    So why are we still paying the same for gasoline? $3.75 ± 20¢.
    The U.S. has the best land for solar, wind & geothermal and the best waters for wind, wave, OTC (ocean thermal conversion) This oil & gas news is VERY bad news for alternative energies. There is less incentive to develop/use alternatives.

  4. ANIL KALANGOT MANGOOL
    KANNUR,KERALA,INDIA
    October 6, 2013, 4:12 am

    THE US EVEN THOUGH IS HARNESSING MORE SOLAR ENERGY THAN ANY OTHER NATION SHOULD PRESERVE ITS NATURAL RESOURCES WHILE DEVELOPING THE TECHNOLOGY TO TAP ON TO THEM LATER IF REQUIRED,SHOULD SPENT ALL ITS EFFORTS TO FULFILL MOST OF ITS ENERGY REQUIREMENTS FROM SOLAR ENERGY AND OTHER NON FOSSIL AND NON NUCLEAR FUEL SOURCES.THE WORLD LOOKS UP TO THE US TO SHOW THE WAY LIKE IT HAS DONE IN MANY OTHER GRAVE CRISIS”S THE WORLD FACED IN THE PAST