The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Fueling the Energy Revolution

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 30, 2015

America’s energy revolution means …

Let’s look at some charts that illustrate this American energy renaissance – which is based on the surge in domestic production that has accompanied the growth of safe, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling since the mid-2000s. First, falling U.S. net imports of oil:


Net imports peaked in the 2005-2006 timeframe and have declined steadily as domestic production ramped up. Again, thanks to fracking. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. produced 8.7 million barrels of oil per day in 2014 – the highest total since 1985 (8.9 million/day).

This domestic oil production is one of the largest factors in decreasing net crude imports (also improved efficiency and decreased demand). This point can’t be said too much: The less crude the United States imports from other countries, the greater the degree of U.S. energy self-sufficiency. Domestic production growth is the result of innovation, technological advances and a highly skilled workforce in U.S. oil fields. U.S. oil production – not mandated ethanol use under the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard, as some suggest – is key in the decline of net imports. We posted this chart last month:


While U.S. ethanol production has indeed increased since 2008, that increase (yellow) is a small fraction of the increase in domestic crude oil production (blue) – which more than accounts for the decrease in net crude imports over the same period (red).  

Now let’s look at the growth of domestic crude oil and ethanol production over the same time period – but on an energy content basis. A 42-gallon barrel of crude oil, from which gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, kerosene, propane and more are produced, has an energy content of 5.8 million British Thermal Units (Btu). That’s about 138,000 Btu per gallon. A gallon of ethanol has an energy content of 84,714 Btu (the upper or gross heating content reported by EIA).

The chart below, using EIA data, shows the energy content (trillions of Btu) from domestic crude production (blue bars) and ethanol (red) in 2008 and 2014, as well as the change in Btu for the two from 2008-2014:


Put another way, domestic crude oil production is responsible for about 95 percent of the increase from 2008 to 2014 on an energy content, or Btu, basis.

What all of these metrics say is that there’s an ongoing American energy revolution, one that’s built on increased domestic production of oil and natural gas – largely developed with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. It means more energy for the United States, the development of which has created jobs and generated economic growth. America is stronger and more energy self-sufficient than it was, evidenced by falling net crude imports.

With pro-energy development policies – increased access to reserves and commonsense approaches to regulation, leasing and permitting – we can sustain and grow this energy revolution and help make the United States stronger, safer and more prosperous in the future.


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.