US to overtake Saudi in oil output by 2020

The world's biggest oil consumer is on track to be energy independent, according to IEA

Topics: Saudia Arabia, Resources, Oil, fracking, Energy, U.S. Economy, Middle East, IEA, ,

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual report Monday, which predicted that U.S. oil output will overtake Saudi Arabia’s by the end of the decade. While many supporters of U.S. energy independence will welcome the news, the IEA report also warns that the global energy system is on an unsustainable path.

According to the IEA, the U.S. will become the world’s top oil producer by 2017 and is on a path to energy self-sufficiency by 2035: “The United States, which currently imports around 20 percent of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms – a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries,” the Western agency wrote.

The U.S. oil boom would accelerate a switch in the direction of international oil trade, the IEA said, predicting that by 2035 almost 90 percent of oil from the Middle East would be drawn to Asia.

The geopolitical implications of an energy independent U.S. could be profound, as Reuters noted Monday, “if Washington feels its strategic interests are no longer as embedded in the Middle East and other volatile oil producing regions.”

The report explained its U.S. forecast: “The recent rebound in U.S. oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity – with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge.”

You Might Also Like

Exemplifying the patterns behind the IEA statistics, a lengthy Bloomberg Businessweek feature last week profiled the shifting fortunes of a North Dakota-based reservation where, five years ago, oil was struck through hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  “Since 2008, according to tribal records, more than $500 million in oil revenue from fracking leasing rights and royalties has flowed into Fort Berthold,” Bloomberg reported, noting however, that “with the influx of money, scores of problems have bubbled up with the crude, including lawsuits, environmental scares, and questions about where the money is going.”

Environmentalists argue that U.S. energy independence comes at the cost of contaminated water supplies, increased air pollution and yet unknown environmental destruction related to fracking — a relatively new extraction process. Indeed, the IEA’s annual report noted that the world is still failing to put the global energy system onto a more sustainable path. “Our analysis shows that in the absence of a concerted policy push, two-thirds of the economically viable potential to improve energy efficiency will remain unrealized through to 2035,” the IEA noted.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>