US to become world leader in oil and gas thanks to fracking

 

The United States will leapfrog Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's biggest producer of oil and gas in the next five years as the controversial practice of "fracking" for hydrocarbons contained in shale rocks has enabled the country to increase production massively, according to an authoritative new report.

In a development that will reshape the geopolitical map, US oil and gas production is set to leap by about a quarter by 2020 as the rapid growth of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, propels the country towards providing all its own energy by 2035, according to this year's keenly watched World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency.

Fracking is a highly controversial practice that involves blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into shale rock to release the oil or gas inside. The process, which has been linked to earth tremors and water pollution, has boomed as rising oil prices and advances in horizontal drilling techniques have made available resources thought unrecoverable.

It was initially used to extract gas but it is increasingly being used to produce oil in states such as North Dakota and Texas.

The fracking boom will push US oil production up from 8.1 million barrels a day last year to 11.1 million in 2020 while gas extraction will jump from 604 billion cubic metres a day to 747 billion, the IEA said.

Maria van der Hoeven, the IEA executive director, said: "North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world." The US presently imports about a fifth of its energy and has increasingly relied on Middle Eastern oil over the past five decades. However, by the time the country is self-sufficient in energy in 2035 nine tenths of Middle Eastern oil exports will be consumed by Asia, with China a particularly big customer.

In a report yesterday, the IEA said that global carbon emissions from generating energy rose by 3.2 per cent to a record 31.2 gigatonnes in 2011 as a 30 per cent jump in fossil fuel "consumption subsidies" to $523bn (£329bn) helped to entrench fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy.

Much of that increase performed a useful social function, as it resulted from governments in the Middle East and North Africa helping their populations to buy staples such as petrol and heating oil. However, the sheer scale of the fossil fuel subsidies will make it harder to curb global warming, when set against just $88bn worth of subsidies to renewable energy last year, the IEA said.

Furthermore, Europe's consumption of environmentally unfriendly coal is increasing as the US shale boom reduces domestic demand for its coal, which instead finds its way to the continent.

The IEA said the world was on course to emit 37 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2035 from energy generation, which would imply a long-term temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times, well ahead of the 2 degree level at which experts agree the worst consequences of climate change could be avoided.

Global oil demand is set to increase by just over a tenth to about 99 million barrels a day by 2035.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us