Good news: The United States is predicted to become the world’s largest producer of oil by 2017, surpassing even Saudi Arabia. Bad news: We won’t pay less at the pump as a result.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report of the world’s energy outlook, projecting that the U.S. will be “all but self-sufficient” in meeting its energy needs within the next 20 years, due to increased oil production and energy efficiency.
One of the biggest factors is the increase in oil and gas production in the U.S., particularly natural gas. CNN Money reports that U.S. oil technology is improving at a rapid rate, allowing machines to more efficiently remove natural gas from shale rock through a special process known as fracking. (Read more about natural gas and the controversial process of fracking.)
But being self-sufficient is not the same as being immune to price swings in oil, since those prices are set by global markets.
“You may be somewhat less vulnerable to price shocks and the U.S. may be slightly more protected, but it doesn’t give you the energy independence some people claim,” Michael A. Levi, senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations told The New York Times.
He also added that the U.S. can only reach this self-sufficient state with improvements in energy efficiency in homes and appliances and gas mileage in cars as well.
Additionally, oil exchange continues to simultaneously deplete and pollute our environment. And water, a necessary feature of energy production used for everything from generation of power to gas transportation, is often in short supply. (Also find out how climate change could affect the economy.)
Whether these projections come true is contingent on a number of factors, including Iraq’s role in global energy exchange. According to the IAE, Iraq should supply the second-largest amount of oil by 2030 given its vast resources. If Iraq fails to meet these expectations, the price of oil could rise dramatically all over the globe. Dependencies like this mean that we can’t expect to see sudden cuts in oil prices when 2017 rolls around despite accomplishments in the U.S.
But you can save on gas and electricity without relying on changes in the global energy market. Find out why we can’t control gas prices, check out the ways you’re overspending on electricity and learn how to budget for gas.