Energy is the life blood which keeps the world spinning in a timely fashion. Without reliable access to oil, gas, and electricity, a society has not yet reached a level to be able to accurately call itself a developed and competitive country. Therefore, it is significant that the United States started large-scale fracking in the late 1990s. Specifically, George P. Mitchel created a technique that combined hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. High oil prices provided a significant boom and large-scale implementation and allowed companies to continuously improve the technology and very importantly, reduce the risk of contaminating underground water sources. Some significant milestones achieved regarding energy independence are: in May 2011 the USA became a net exporter of refined petroleum products, in 2014 the USA became the third largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia and Russia, in 2017 the US became a net exporter of natural gas, and in November 2018 a net oil exporter. This development will yield impressive results not only for the United States economy, but also for the country’s national security.
In March of this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put things into perspective about America’s energy future. “Only about a decade ago, we did live in a world where we imported 60 percent of our oil, and now we’ve shrugged off that oak of energy dependence.” Most of this imported oil comes from Canada, 43%, Saudi Arabia, 9%, Mexico, 7%, Venezuela, 6%, and then Iraq with 5%.
Clearly oil and gas play a significant role in international politics and the USA became an even stronger player after it lifted its export ban on crude oil in 2015. Oil refineries have been against this measure because their raw material, the light US oil was available to them at low prices. The USA is now the largest natural gas and oil producing country in the world.
Pompeo was quick to point out that energy independence was good not only for the United States, but also for America’s allies. “Our plentiful oil supplies allow us to help our friends secure diversity for their energy resources. We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the NordStream II project any more than we ourselves want to depend on Venezuela for our oil supplies.” He went on to stress that America would not just be sharing its resources, but its values as well. Europe has started to import natural gas from the USA despite its higher overall cost. On a friendly note, Pompeo mentioned that the US buys German cars, despite their higher cost.
An energy independent United States is good for the American people for a variety of reasons. Producing the energy that one consumes prevents the need to do business with regimes around the world that have proven themselves unreliable. It also bolsters the domestic economy and provides some sustainability in the notoriously fickle energy market.
If the current administration has its way, America’s energy revolution is just getting started. With any luck, the results can change the world for the better. As new, non conventional sources of energy like renewables continue to grow, the long term competitiveness of the country will also improve. Export capacity will grow even stronger and new technologies will prosper in the country. It is very important to focus on alternative sources of energy despite the huge increase in hydrocarbons production.