By Isaac Cohen*
High oil prices over $100 per barrel have made viable new technologies in the United States, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, leading to significant increases in the production of unconventional oil and gas.
Last week, the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, said the United States will become, during the present quarter, the leading producer of liquid fuels, outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries. Additional production of biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, pushed total production of liquid fuels in the United States to 11.2 million barrels per day (bpd), ahead of Russian production. Also, the United States is the third largest producer of crude oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.
In fact, oil and gas production in the United States has reached 10.28 bpd, the third in the world and very close to Russian production of 10.81 bpd. Therefore, in 2011, the United became a net exporter of refined oil products, which was not seen since 1949.
Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that this transformation is sustainable. In August, the US Energy Information Administration confirmed increases in “proven” reserves of oil and gas, or those that can be extracted and commercialized under current conditions. Oil reserves grew by 15 percent to the highest level since1985, while gas reserves increased 10 percent to the highest level since 1977.
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington Office.