Recent increases in U.S. oil production combined with decreases in oil imports point to a future with less dependence on foreign oil, according to a recent report by The Motley Fool.
"According to recently released data, the U.S. is pumping out more oil than it has in at least two decades, led by rapid production increases in Texas and North Dakota," the article states. "As a result, Gulf Coast refiners have drastically reduced their reliance on foreign imports of certain grades of crude oil. The question remains, do we still need oil imports from the Middle East?"
The article cites annual data released recently by the U.S. Department of Energy showing that U.S. crude production increased by 812,000 barrels per day last year, which represents the most rapid yearly increase since the first commercially viable oil well was drilled near Titusville, Pa., in 1859.
"For the months of November and December, U.S. daily oil production rose above 7 million barrels per day for the first time in at least two decades. Meanwhile, net crude imports into the U.S. declined by 437,000 barrels per day to 8.5 million barrels per day - the lowest level in 15 years," the article states.
The data underscore a major trend under way in Texas and North Dakota, according to The Motley Fool. New drilling technologies combined with enhanced oil recovery have made it economical to access reserves previously thought unrecoverable, and oil companies drilling in these states have seen drastic improvements in the total quantities of oil recovered, the article states.
"As a result, Texas field production of crude oil has more than doubled in just three years, from 31.4 million barrels in February 2010 to 62.4 million barrels in November 2012," the article states. "Production growth in North Dakota has been even more staggering, rising threefold over the same time period, from 7.3 million barrels to 21.9 million barrels."
Improved domestic production has freed U.S. refineries from dependence on imported oil. "For years, many refineries, including those along the Gulf Coast, and especially those along the East Coast, have had to import light, sweet crude oil from abroad, mainly from OPEC's two largest West African members, Nigeria and Angola. But with rapid advances in the domestic production of light, sweet crudes over recent years, these countries are being forced to look elsewhere for new export markets," The Motley Foolwrites.
The article cites data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing that the U.S. has reduced its imports of Nigerian crude by about half since July 2010, from over 1 million barrels a day to 543,000 barrels per day as of October 2012. And last year, Nigerian imports plunged by 363,000 barrels per day. Similarly, Angolan imports have fallen to less than 200,000 barrels per day, down from a 2008 average of 513,000.
Decreased U.S. dependence on oil imports is also highlighted in a recent Fox News piece. "A wealth of new technologies — from underwater robots to 3-D scanners to nano-engineered lubricants — are transforming the energy exploration industry in ways that will hasten the end of America's reliance on Middle East oil," the article states.
The reduction in oil imports is partly attributable to improved vehicle fuel efficiency, but it's also largely due to the increased production of oil on U.S. shores, the article notes.
To read the Motley Fool article, click here.
To read the Fox News article, click here.