U.S. energy independence on the horizon? Maybe soon.

An article from NPR, Is U.S. Energy Independence Finally Within Reach?, explains the impact of all the new drilling could be making theU.S. energy independent soon.

The article says:

Energy self-sufficiency is now in sight,” says energy economist Phil Verleger. He believes that within a decade, the U.S. will no longer need to import crude oil and will be a natural gas exporter

Verleger says all of the previous presidents fighting for energy independence would be quite surprised by how this came about: It’s not the result of government policy or drilling by big oil.

“This is really the classic success of American entrepreneurs,” he says. “These were people who saw this coming, managed to assemble the capital and go ahead.”

Small energy companies using such controversial techniques as hydraulic fracturing, along with horizontal drilling, are unlocking vast oil and natural gas deposits trapped in shale in places like Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Texas.  North Dakota, for instance, now produces a half-million barrels a day of crude oil, and production is rising.

So we could get to energy independence not because some incredible, wonderful, brilliant policy or program by the feds. No, if we get there it will be thanks to small companies that took a chance on brand-new techniques.

The potential impact?

“This shale gale, I describe it as the energy equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down. This is a big deal,” says Robin West, chairman and CEO of PFC Energy, who has been in the energy consulting business for decades.

“We estimate that by 2020, the U.S. overall will be the largest hydrocarbon producer in the world; bigger than Russia or Saudi Arabia,” he says.

Did some checking on Wikipedia. (Okay, it’s a cheap way to do research and not acceptable in academia. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a working accountant and not an academic.)

Found this List of countries by oil production.

The US produces 7.8 million barrels per day compared to 10.5 million barrels per day in Russia. The estimate by West means the production in the US would increase by one-third in 18 years.

Production in North Dakota in the range of 500k or 580k 540k bbl/day would put the state at the 30th largest producer in the world. That is something in the range of half a percent of the world-wide production of oil.

Doubling that in the next year or so to a nice round 1m bbl/day, which is a guess I’ve read several places, would make the state the 23rd largest producer in the world, just ahead of Columbia and India.

Amazing.

(Hat tip: Mark Perry at Carpe Diem. If you’re not reading the good professor’s blog you really should. Hey, got an idea for an alternative – you can check back here and I’ll mention the highlights.)

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