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
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
music
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003