The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Choosing American Energy

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 3, 2014

More data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), pointing toward American energy self-sufficiency: The agency reports domestic energy production accounted for 84 percent of total U.S. energy demand in 2013, a ratio last seen in the early 1990s. EIA:

The portion of U.S. energy consumption supplied by domestic production has been increasing since 2005, when it was at its historical low point (69%). Since 2005, production of domestic resources, particularly natural gas and crude oil, has been increasing as a result of the application of technologies that can develop harder-to-produce resources.

EIA’s chart:

oil_consumption

The technologies cited by EIA are advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the engine of the ongoing U.S. energy revolution. Without them, there’s no surge in production of oil and natural gas from America’s vast reserves of shale and other tight-rock formations and no energy renaissance – only the narrative of less than a decade ago, one of energy scarcity, dependence and limits on opportunity.

Thanks to modern fracking and the ability to safely tap shale formations laterally, through horizontal drilling, the U.S. is on course to reach zero net imports in the mid- to late-2030s, according to EIA projections.

The agency says the last significant rise in domestic production as a percentage of domestic consumption occurred from 1978 to 1982, when oil started to flow from Alaska’s North Slope and consumers consumed less because of higher crude prices. At the same time, EIA says, domestic coal production was increasing.

Today, oil and natural gas output is surging, EIA reports:

Natural gas was the largest domestically produced energy resource for the third year in a row and, together with the other fossil fuels (coal, crude oil, and hydrocarbon gas liquids), accounted for more than three quarters of U.S. energy production. In total, the United States consumed 97.5 quads of energy, 82% of which was fossil fuels. Renewable and nuclear energy made up 10% and 8%, respectively, of U.S. energy consumption.

The reason for these fuels’ dominance is pretty simple: The most affordable, abundant, reliable energy in the world makes modern living possible. Our economy and standard of living are based on oil and natural gas because they’re energy-rich and mobile. They create opportunity for safer, healthier lives by taking us where we need to go, by heating and cooling our homes, by making possible the manufacture of modern medicines and health-care equipment. They make our environment livable, and natural gas use, in particular, is helping make our air cleaner. EIA reports energy-related carbon dioxide emissions last year were 10 percent lower than they were in 2005.

Meanwhile, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry is serving as an economic dynamo, creating jobs and stimulating broader growth – including growth in revenues generated for governments. Without fracking and domestic oil and natural gas production, writes Cato’s Richard Rahn in the Washington Times, “there would have been no economic growth in the U.S. over the past five years.” More:

According to the well-regarded economic-analysis firm IHS, the contribution to GDP from the development of unconventional oil and gas is now running at more than 2.5 percent of GDP per year and rapidly growing. This addition to GDP is expected to peak in 2016 at about 3.2 of GDP, and thereafter reach a permanently higher, steady state, which would not have occurred without unconventional oil and gas production.

The revolution can continue if we choose energy – the right policy approaches in terms of access to reserves, regulation and investment in infrastructure. It starts by recognizing we have an abundance of the reliable, efficient energy: oil and natural gas. This means that as we develop a broad array of energy sources we don’t need to pause or retreat. As we produce more of the energy we use here at home, America’s economy will grow stronger and America will be safer in the world. U.S. oil and natural gas is the energy of our lives today and will be tomorrow – if we choose to make it so.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.