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U.S. to surpass Saudi Arabia oil production by 2020

Posting in Energy

The United States is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia to become the largest global oil producer by the end of the decade, the International Energy Agency said.

The rebound in U.S. oil and gas production, driven by technologies that are unlocking tight oil and shale gas resources, coupled with new fuel-efficiency measures will reduce oil imports, said the IEA in its annual World Energy Outlook.

The U.S. has always been a major producer of oil. But the United States' appetite for crude far exceeds what it can produce domestically, which requires it to import around 20 percent of its total energy needs from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and other oil-exporting nations. Crude imports to the U.S. fell 11 percent this year.

If the IEA's projections play out, the U.S., the world's biggest fuel consumer, could get close to energy independence. The IEA also projects North America will become a net oil exporter around 2030, a development that would accelerate a shift in the international oil trade towards Asia.

Other highlights from the World Annual Outlook:

  • Global energy demand grows by more than one-third through 2035, with China, India and the Middle East accounting for 60 percent of the increase;
  • Energy demand barely rises in OECD countries (primarily Western countries which rely on imports from oil-exporting nations), although there is a pronounced shift away from coal, oil and in some countries, nuclear;
  • Fossil fuels remain dominant in the global energy mix, supported by subsidies that reached $523 billion in 2011, up nearly 30 percent from 2010 and six times more than subsidies for renewable energy;
  • Fossil fuel subsidies remain most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa.

Photo: Flickr user Paul Lowry, CC 2.0

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— By on November 12, 2012, 4:05 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure