Let me give you some inside information. You know that pesky addiction to foreign oil the US has been trying to kick since at least the 1970s? Yeah, we’re going to solve that – and sooner rather than later.
As you probably know, I’m studying engineering at possibly one of the best engineering schools in the country. One of the main themes of my engineering course is energy sustainability – how do we make products consume less energy and behave more efficiently?
After my first week at school I could tell that the education push in this direction would lead to major breakthroughs in energy technology within a few years, as engineers trained from their first years to consider sustainability begin to enter the workforce. We read about the need for US energy independence in the news and see it on TV, but if you’re not working in a related field you’d probably just assume that we’ll never end our import problem, which we’ve had since the 1973 oil crisis. Apparently, relying on less-than-friendly countries for your vital energy needs isn’t a good idea.
Turns out we’re already making huge progress on getting away from that.
The United States will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020 and will be energy independent by 2030, according to an article by CNNMoney that went up just a few days ago.
“‘The United States, which currently imports around 20% of its total energy needs, becomes all but self sufficient in net terms — a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries,’ the IEA stated.
The U.S. is experiencing an oil boom, in large part thanks to high world prices and new technologies, including hydraulic fracking, that have made the extraction of oil and gas from shale rock commercially viable.
From 2008 to 2011, U.S. crude oil production jumped 14%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas production is up by about 10% over the same period.”
The advent of fracking (which combined with a weak economy has slashed the price of natural gas from $6.39 to $3.95 per thousand cubic feet) is huge reason for this move to domestic energy sources. Fracking is a relatively new technology that uses high pressure liquid to expand wells and gain access to surrounding oil or gas deposits. This video does a pretty good job of explaining it:
The technology behind fracking is pretty cool and very impressive, especially when you look at what it’s done to the price of domestic energy sources. With lower prices for gas and oil in the US, imports will make up a smaller part of American consumption over the long run. I’m stunned by the 2030 prediction because it seems relatively soon, but when you take a look at the economic impact of these and other new technologies under development maybe its not so surprising after all.
Update: New video!