The US could become self-sufficient, while 90% of middle eastern oil could go to China, according to new estimates
The US can shed its long-standing dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia and become the world's biggest oil producer within the next decade, the world's foremost authority in energy said on Monday.
The International Energy Agency said that the result of new technology allowing the exploitation of new sources of unconventional fossil fuels would be a redrawing of the international energy map. In the past five decades, the US has relied increasingly on the middle east for its oil.
But within little over 20 years, the US could be self-sufficient in all forms of energy and 90% of middle eastern oil could be headed for China, according to new IEA estimates.
So-called unconventional sources of oil and gas, including shale gas and shale oil, will fuel the US's energy independence, with huge implications for geopolitics – and for climate change. If governments and companies opt for cheaper fossil fuels in place of environmentally sustainable sources of energy such as wind and sun, then hope of cutting greenhouse gas emissions will be lost.
The US becoming the world's biggest oil producer would mark a huge shift in world politics. The relationships between the US and the middle east have for decades been defined by the former's thirst for oil to fuel an automobile driven economy.
Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA, said it was the biggest redrawing of the energy map seen for decades. "This makes a huge difference," he said. But he said there was still hope of avoiding disastrous levels of climate change if companies opted to pursue energy efficiency, which could yield immediate benefits in cutting energy bills and carbon emissions.
[Oil rig via Shutterstock]