The International Energy Agency has predicted the US will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia in five years' time. As the world's top producer, the US would then no longer have to import any oil.
According to the International Energy Agency (IAE), the United States will overtake Russia as the biggest gas producer by 2015, and Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2017.
The Paris-based agency, which advises industrialized western nations on energy policy, said in its latest long-term global energy forecast on Monday that there had been a marked shift in assessments, given that earlier predictions saw Saudi Arabia remain the top producer until at least 2035.
"Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America and the energy sector," IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol commented.
Climate goals missed
Birol highlighted the recent rebound in US oil and gas production which he said was driven by modern technologies that were unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources. He added, though, that he realized how optimistic the IEA forecasts were, given that the shale oil boom was a relatively new phenomenon.
The agency stated the surge in output and more fuel-efficient cars was reducing US reliance on energy imports "to the extent that the country will become a net oil exporter around 2030."
The IAE report also emphasized that Asia would in the meantime continue to experience the biggest surge in energy demand which it said was expected to grow by over one third by 2035, from 87.4 million barrels per day last year to 99.7 million bpd.
Birol warned that while many nations had announced ambitious energy reduction targets, progress had so far been disappointing. "The climate goal of limiting global warming by two degrees Celsius is becoming more difficult and more costly with each year that passes by," Birol said.
hg/dr (dpa, Reuters)