How did the United States, at 242 years of age, become the new world leader in oil and gas production and at the same time, the new world leader in reducing carbon emissions? In part because of the U.S.’s two other new accomplishments in the energy sector, according to the executive director of the International Energy Agency.
According to IEA’s Fatih Birol, all four of the United States’ recent energy accomplishments are closely related:
1. Oil & Gas
The IEA recently undertook a five-year outlook for the natural-gas market.
“Our numbers show that the U.S. will be the undisputed leader of oil and gas production growth for many years to come,” Birol said last week in an appearance at the Brookings Institution. “The numbers are very impressive, I can tell you that.”
In 2019 alone, 75 percent of the growth in global oil is expected to come from the United States, Birol said, and specifically from the hydraulic fracturing of shale. That number could go higher if oil prices go higher. As the U.S. exerts dominance, Birol expects oil prices to don a cap:
“I think the U.S. coming into the picture set a ceiling to how high the prices can go up,” he said, because “if there is a high price, it will induce more U.S. oil.”
The only obstacle Birol sees to U.S. dominance is pipeline constraint. “There is one problem we have in the United States, mainly the capacity of the pipelines,” he said. “We need to make more investment and we need to open the way for new pipeline infrastructure development there.”
The U.S. boom is so strong that it will threaten the economies of countries that have relied too heavily on gas and oil production, and it will give leverage to importing countries even if they don’t buy from the U.S. When importers in Europe and Asia negotiate with producers in Russia and the Middle East, they now have the option of buying from the U.S. instead.
“The U.S. is coming and this will be felt from the trade floors to the geopolitics of energy, from the geopolitics of energy to the other exporters, and also many importers who will not even import one molecule of American gas will benefit from that.”
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