Growing demand for shale gas, oil and coal has ensured the US has achieved its goal of becoming a net export of energy, according to a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report.
While there have been a number of examples of countries switching from being a net energy exporter to a net importer, it is very rare for a country to do the opposite, as the US has done.
In its report, the IEA said: “The rise in US production of tight oil and shale gas is set to match or exceed the most dramatic sustained rises in output ever seen by individual countries.”
“On the oil side, the rise in output projected to 2025 in the New Policies Scenario would be about as fast as the rise in output from Saudi Arabia between 1966 and 1981,” it added: “The rise in US shale gas projected from 2008 to 2023 would exceed the growth in gas output in the Soviet Union between 1974 and 1989”.
However, despite the move to become a net exporter, the US energy economy remains delicately balanced with that of its neighbours and markets further afield. The configuration of the US refinery system means the US will continue to import larger amounts of heavy crude oil while it exports lighter crude and refined products, leaving it susceptible to the wider market.