What seemed unthinkable just a half decade ago is now reality. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest fuel producer. Crude output in the U.S. has hit a 20 year high and has produced the most fuel in the world for the first time since 2002. The United States is producing 11.65 million barrels of liquid fuel a day (which includes crude, refined petroleum products, and biofuels) surpassing the Saudi Arabian output of 11.25 million barrels a day.
The United States has been able to achieve this with new technologies that allow drilling in shale-oil fields across the country. In contrast, the Saudi output is almost exclusively crude oil. The output of the United States is expected to increase in the coming years and the International Energy Agency stated that the shale-oil boom will result in the U.S. overtaking Saudi Arabia on the basis of crude-oil production by 2020. The Energy Information Administration estimates that the U.S. has 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas resources underneath its land mass that can be extracted with hydraulic fracturing (fracking). As more and more energy needs are able to be satisfied by natural gas this may prove to be another windfall for the U.S.
What does all this mean for the world? For the United States it will hopefully signal a path to energy independence that is much referred to as important for national security issues. It could also mean an economic revolution where wealth in energy is transferred back to the West. As a consumer the hope would be that this increase in supply provided by the United States drives competition which translates to a break at the pump.