The United States is on track to overtake oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top oil producing nation by 2017, according to the latest report by the International Energy Agency.
In a report released todat, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said it saw a continued fall in US oil imports and predicted that Washington could be self-sufficient in energy by 2035.
The United States, which currently imports around 20 percent 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.
IEA data projects that the US will pump 11.1 million barrels of oil a day in 2020 and 10.9 million in 2025 - 500,000 barrels a day and 100,000 barrels a day higher, respectively, than its forecasts for Saudi Arabia for those years.
According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia pumped 9.8 million barrels of oil a day last month, compared with 6.8 million barrels a day in the US, based on data from the US Energy Department.
According to the IEA's estimation, the US would also overtake Russia as the largest gas producer by 2015.
The resurgence in US oil and gas production, the IEA added, was spurring economic activity "with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving [US] industry a competitive edge".
IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said at a press conference in London:
Around 2017, the United States will be the largest oil producer of the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia. This is of course a major development and definitely will have significant implications.
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Despite America's rise, Saudi Arabia, which boasts the world's largest conventional oil reserves and substantial undeveloped resources, will still dominate oil markets in the long term. The Kingdom will have regained its top spot by 2030, the IEA predicted, pumping 11.4 million barrels per day compared to the US' 10.2 million barrels per day.
However, some have warned that the US oil boom is still in its infancy and continued growth cannot be guaranteed. Birol noted that a drop in global oil prices would affect production, since tight oil requires a high market price to be economic. In contrast, Saudi oil is much cheaper to produce.
Gareth Lewis-Davies, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA in London, said:
The IEA outlook feeds into the idea of a shift in the center of influence in the world oil market. Given Saudi Arabia is willing to shift production up and down it will retain a large degree of influence, and remain important as a price-influencer.