History of Dependence.

North American energy independence relates to the goal of reducing the U.S. imports of oil and other foreign sources of energy. If total energy is looked at, the U.S. is over 75% self-sufficient. Energy independence is espoused by those who want to leave America unaffected by global energy supply disruptions, and to restrict reliance upon politically unstable states for its energy purposes. Energy independence is highly concerned with oil, being the source of the country’s principal transport fuels. The United States is the world’s third largest producer of oil, but it also relies on imported oil. More oil is imported from Canada than any other country. 20% of imported oil comes from the Middle East. Such resources are finite and decreasing, despite an increase in demand. World-wide demand for oil is projected to grow 60% over the next two decades. As of 2005, the U.S. produced about 40% of the oil that it consumes; its oil production peaked in 1970 and its imports had exceeded domestic production since the early 1990s. Greater energy self-sufficiency, it is claimed, would prevent major supply disruptions like the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis from recurring. Proponents argue that the potential for political unrest in major oil suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia (15% of domestic consumption), Venezuela (13%), and Nigeria (10%), is abundant, and often cause great fluctuations in crude oil prices (especially in the short-term), despite the risk-potential being factored into market prices.

Fracking – Igniting the American Energy Revolution

Fracking has vociferous critics and fervent defenders, but the debate between these camps has obscured the actual story: Fracking has become a fixture of the American landscape and the global economy. It has upended the business models of energy companies around the globe, and it has started to change geopolitics and global energy markets in profound ways. Gold tells the story of this once-obscure oilfield technology—a story with an incredible cast of tycoons and geologists, dreamers and drillers, speculators and skeptics, a story that answers a critical question of our time: Where will the energy come from to power our world—and what price will we have to pay for it?

Only five years ago, the world’s supply of oil appeared to be peaking, and as conventional gas production declined in the United States, it seemed that the country would become dependent on costly natural gas imports. But in the years since, those predictions have proved spectacularly wrong. Global energy production has begun to shift away from traditional suppliers in Eurasia and the Middle East, as producers tap unconventional gas and oil resources around the world, from the waters of Australia, Brazil, Africa, and the Mediterranean to the oil sands of Alberta. The greatest revolution, however, has taken place in the United States, where producers have taken advantage of two newly viable technologies to unlock resources once deemed commercially infeasible: horizontal drilling, which allows wells to penetrate bands of shale deep underground, and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses the injection of high-pressure fluid to release gas and oil from rock formations.

The resulting uptick in energy production has been dramatic. Between 2007 and 2012, U.S. shale gas production rose by over 50 percent each year, and its share of total U.S. gas production jumped from five percent to 39 percent. Terminals once intended to bring foreign liquefied natural gas (LNG) to U.S. consumers are being reconfigured to export U.S. LNG abroad. Between 2007 and 2012, fracking also generated an 18-fold increase in U.S. production of what is known as light tight oil, high-quality petroleum found in shale or sandstone that can be released by fracking. This boom has succeeded in reversing the long decline in U.S. crude oil production, which grew by 50 percent between 2008 and 2013. Thanks to these developments, the United States is now poised to become an energy superpower. Last year, it surpassed Russia as the world’s leading energy producer, and by next year, according to projections by the International Energy Agency, it will overtake Saudi Arabia as the top producer of crude oil.