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U.S. Sees Oil Boom Create Millions of Jobs, Could Become No. 1 Global Producer

Written by Richard Finlayson, Senior International Editor for Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)–

High prices and new drilling methods are driving a sustained boom in U.S. hydrocarbon production, which could see it overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia and put the U.S. back in the No. 1 oil producer spot for the first time since 2002.

U.S. oil production is set to rise 7% in 2013 to reach an average of 10.9 million barrels per day (BBL/d). This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single year gain since 1951.

The Department of Energy (DoE) forecasts that U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels, will average 11.4 million BBL/d in 2013. This would represent a 40-year peak and would be just below Saudi Arabia’s output of 11.6 million BBL/d. Citibank (New York, New York) forecasts that U.S. production could reach 13 million to 15 million BBL/d by 2020, making North America “the new Middle East.”

At the end of 2012, U.S. crude output will be its highest level since 1998, and oil imports will be lower than any time since 1992, equal to 41 % of consumption. Currently, national consumption is 18.7 million BBL/d.

The oil and gas drilling boom, which already supports 1.7 million jobs, will lead to the creation of 1.3 million jobs across the U.S. economy by the end of the decade.

A study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and three major trade associations reported that shale oil and gas development has enabled the creation of 1.75 million U.S. jobs over the past few years, and could be responsible for 2.5 million by 2020 and 3.5 million by 2035.

Production from shale formations is expected to grow from 1.6 million BBL/d in 2012 to 4.2 million BBL/d by 2020, according to consultants at Wood Mackenzie. For the 2020 forecast, the U.S. is expected to yield more oil than major oil suppliers (such as Iran and Canada) produce today.

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