The Wall Street Journal has a good piece up about how the boom in shale oil production is rapidly making the U.S. energy-independent. So rapidly that it is causing serious trouble inside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, especially for countries like Iran and Venezuela that depend on exports. It is quite a change from the days when OPEC had the U.S. under its thumb.
The Journal reports:
OPEC has overcome past rivalries to rally against an external threat, most notably in 2008 when it agreed to a production cut of more than four million barrels a day to stem a price crash during the financial crisis. But the uneven impact of the North American supply surge makes a collective response — such as a coordinated production cut to support prices — more difficult, said delegates on both sides of the divide.
The U.S. and Canada are set to produce about 21% more oil by 2018 than from this year, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
This marks a historic and largely unexpected reversal. U.S. crude-oil production peaked in 1970 and had declined continuously for more than 20 years when shale oil first began to flow after 2008. U.S. crude production has risen to a 21-year high as hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and other technologies have unlocked large resources of oil previously trapped in shale rock in North Dakota and Texas. Shale deposits in other areas, such as Pennsylvania, are yielding mostly natural gas.
OPEC, the source of around one-third of the world’s oil, has clearly been taken aback by the shift in U.S. production. In 2010, the organization forecast U.S. and Canadian oil production of 2014 at 11.8 million barrels a day. Just two years later, that forecast had risen to 14.5 million barrels a day.
Read the whole thing here.