The U.S. is now easily the world’s largest oil and gas producer, yielding 20% more oil and 25% more gas than Russia. The U.S. could also become the largest global seller of these essential fuels within five years. Obviously, there’s a lot more than just three, but let me hit on the triad of pillars.
1) Producing at All-Time Records
The U.S. shale revolution that started in 2008 has not just transformed our domestic energy outlook but also energy markets around the world. Over this time, U.S. crude oil production has surged 140% to 12.2 million b/d, while gas output is up 55% to 88 Bcf/d. The U.S. is now easily the world’s largest oil and gas producer, yielding 20% more oil and 25% more gas than Russia.
As it turns out, contrary to wide assertions, U.S. crude production didn’t peak in 1970, and U.S. gas production didn’t peak in 2005. The American shale boom itself is a testament to the non-stop evolution of oil and gas operational efficiencies and technologies.
The U.S. oil and gas industry is stronger today than it’s ever been. The price collapse from 2014 to 2017 forced the industry to cut costs to survive. And with some 100 E&P firms going bankrupt during that time, those left standing are mean, lean oil and gas producing machines – and more consolidation will allow them to persist during challenging times of low prices.
This is why IHS Markit says that 1.9 million new jobs in oil and gas will open up from 2016 to 2035.
2) Will Still Supply the Bulk of Our Energy
Today, oil and gas are our two most important sources of energy, meeting 65% of total U.S. energy demand. We lean on oil for 97% of our transportation needs, and increasingly, natural gas leads by generating 35% of all U.S. electricity.
And there’s so much more to come.
Quietly, the U.S. Department of Energy recently projected that gas will easily add the most amount of power capacity through 2050, at 235,000 megawatts. This will be a cornerstone of meeting our climate change and environmental goals: “Thanks to Natural Gas, US CO2 Emissions Lowest Since 1985.”
Gas will also remain integral to heating, manufacturing, and in the underappreciated business of “peaking plants,” flexible gas units that backup intermittent wind and solar power. And at 19-20 million b/d, U.S. oil demand remains “buoyantly very high.” Oil (transport) and wind and solar (power) compete in different sectors of the U.S. economy.
And U.S. car sales in 2018 were 17.3 million units. Just 2% of them run on electricity. “Electric vehicle revolution will come from China, not U.S.” Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that oil and gas will still supply over 60% of our energy needs for as far out as it currently models (2050).
All of this mandates that we must produce more oil and gas along with the infrastructure required for their expansion. If not, we will expensively and dangerously be forcing ourselves to rely more on the global supply chains, largely now in the hands of more “politically risky” producers like OPEC and Russia.
California and the New England states illustrate exactly what happens when you pass laws that block the domestic production of fuels that you still vitally need: Saudi Arabia for oil and Russia for gas.
3) Going Global
Not just being the largest oil and gas producer, The U.S. could also become the largest global seller of these essential fuels within five years. The American oil export boom started in December 2015 with a law change to ship crude beyond just neighbor Canada.
And gas followed suit in February 2016 when our first LNG export facility in the contiguous U.S. (Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass) shipped its first cargo from Louisiana.
At over 2.5 million b/d, U.S. crude oil exports were 35% higher last month than they were in April 2018, made even more impressive given the trade war with China. Oil product exports were double that. Much more is coming.
There are at least eight proposals for new deepwater oil ports along the Gulf, augmented by expansions of existing terminals. And these new projects aim to fully load VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) within a single day.
By early next year, U.S. Gulf crude export capacity should be around 8.5 million b/d. For natural gas, with three operational today, three more LNG export facilities will be online by the end of this year.
Our total LNG export capacity stands to reach nearly 8 Bcf/d, or nearly 20% of the total global demand market. Although unlikely to all come online, proposed projects are five or six times that amount.
Our gas prices are low and transparent, and our LNG contracts are far more flexible. Today at 4-5 Bcf/d and reaching some 30 nations, we are slated to become the leading LNG exporter before 2025.
Let’s hope that we don’t get in our own way: “China to increase tariffs on US LNG to 25%.” We better get this right, fast: “Russia Could Take Hold Of China’s Entire Gas Market.”
Those opposing U.S. LNG development plans are handing this critical and soaring market to Vladimir Putin: “Russia’s wants to raise its share of the global LNG market to as much as 20 percent by 2035, after having doubled its share to 8 percent last year.“
Indeed, just like getting the required pipelines built, especially from the booming Permian Basin in West Texas, the infrastructure build-out to ship oil and gas around the world from the Gulf will be bumpier than it should be.
But, the world is depending on us.
The U.S. will be responsible for over 70% of new global oil supply over the next five to seven years at least, so prices will be that much higher if we don’t produce as called upon.
In addition, U.S. natural gas will also help others cut dependence on riskier suppliers (‘Freedom gas’: US opens LNG floodgates to Europe), while also lowering their greenhouse gas emissions by lessening their overreliance on coal and backing up wind and solar power.
Blue state politicans take note: dire warnings from the International Energy Agency on oil and gas have to do with not enough investment in producing them. That tells you all you need to know about how robust global demand for these essential commodities really is.