New Boom Reshapes Oil World, Rocks North Dakota : NPR
“Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.
Places like Williston are the reason why.
“For many years, they knew that there was oil in that area, but the technology wasn’t available to get it out,” the town’s mayor, Ward Koeser, tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
But in the last few years, advances in such technologies as “fracking” and horizontal drilling have made, by some estimates, as much as 11 billion barrels of oil available in the Bakken formation under North Dakota and Montana.
“There’s oil companies coming from all over the country now.” Koeser says.
Williston has skipped the recession entirely. Unemployment there is less than 2 percent. The population, the mayor estimates, has grown from 12,000 to 20,000 in the last four years.
“We actually have probably between 2,000 and 3,000 job openings in Williston right now,” Koeser says.”
Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University says in the next decade, new oil in the US, Canada and South America could change the center of gravity of the entire global energy supply.
“Some are now saying, in five or 10 years’ time, we’re a major oil-producing region, where our production is going up,” she says.
The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That’s compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.
Jaffe says those new oil reserves, combined with growing turmoil in the Middle East, will “absolutely propel more and more investment into the energy resources in the Americas.”
Russia is already feeling the growth of American energy, Jaffe says. As the U.S. produces more of its own natural gas, Europe is free to purchase liquefied natural gas the US is no longer buying.
“They’re buying less natural gas from Russia,” Jaffe says. “So Russia would only supply 10 percent of European natural gas demand by 2030. That means the Russians are no longer powerful.”