For years, the Achilles heel of the American economy has been its reliance on imported oil. But there are signs that the United States is finally beginning to reduce its addiction to foreign-sourced petroleum.
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that North Dakota has passed Alaska as the second-leading oil-producing state in America.
According to the U.S. business daily, North Dakota produced 575,490 barrels per day in March, which is 1.4 percent above Alaska’s total of 567,480 per month.
Texas is the leader, with 1.7 million barrels per day.
The U.S.-based Energy Policy Information Center attributed the increase to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking”. It involves pumping massive amounts of water, often combined with chemicals, at high pressure to crack rocks and allow for the recovery of oil and natural gas.
“Most of the controversy about fracking has come from the new natural gas plays, where production is happening in areas where it hadn’t before,” the center stated on its website. “For tight oil, however, production is resuming in areas thought to be tapped out.”
And earlier this month, the Energy Security Leadership Council—whose members include various CEOs and numerous retired U.S. generals—issued a report called The New American Oil Boom: Implications for Energy Security.
It stated that net U.S. imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products went down for the sixth straight year.
The council also noted that there has been an increase in the production of “liquid fuels” in the United States, rising by 1.4 million barrels per day between 2008 and 2011, just as net imports were falling by 2.7 million barrels per day.
“Based on current U.S. dynamics, both trends—rising production and falling imports—appear to be sustainable for the next decade and possibly longer,” the council report stated. “Numerous observers have suggested that this outlook is transformative for U.S. energy security. They argue that the nation is on the cusp of an era of energy independence through self-sufficiency in supply—an era characterized by greater economic stability and national security as the result of reduced reliance on Middle East oil supplies.”
The report noted that in 2010, petroleum fuels amounted to 37 percent of U.S. primary energy demand, down from 47 percent in 1977.