U.S. oil output is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia’s in the next decade, making the world’s biggest fuel consumer almost self-reliant and putting it on track to become a net exporter, the International Energy Agency said Monday.
The assessment comes in the wake of similar forecasts from the U.S. Energy Department that growing supplies of crude extracted through new technology including hydraulic fracturing of underground rock formations will transform the oil industry.
The U.S. is expected to become the largest producer for about five years starting about 2020, the Paris-based IEA said in its annual World Energy Outlook. The U.S. met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first six months of this year, the Energy Department said.
“The IEA outlook feeds into the idea of a shift in the center of influence in the world oil market,” said Gareth Lewis-Davies, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA in London. “Given Saudi Arabia is willing to shift production up and down it will retain a large degree of influence, and remain important as a price-influencer.”
The U.S., where crude imports have fallen 11 percent this year, is on track to produce the most oil since 1991, according to Energy Department data. The growing output, coupled with a gas-production boom, may help insulate the nation from supply disruptions. President Barack Obama last week cited “freeing ourselves from foreign oil” as a policy goal.