Editorial | The oil boom

Editorial | The oil boom

The shortage that was is no more.

Remember when American presidents somberly talked about this country's "addiction" to foreign oil?

Remember when oil was $140 a barrel and, some analysts predicted, destined to go higher?

Remember claims that American foreign policy was driven by the desire for oil from the Middle East?

If those days ever were, they are over now — at least for the short-term future.

The International Energy Agency, which monitors the oil industry, reports that it expects the United States to become the world's largest oil producer by 2023, pumping 12.1 million barrels a day. That's 2.7 million more barrels a day than the U.S. is producing now.

Not only is the U.S. pumping more and more oil, so are other countries outside the Middle Eastern oil cartel known as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. They include Brazil, Canada and Norway.

The U.S. oil boom is driven by so-called "enhanced oil recovery" — various techniques to extract additional barrels from oil fields already tapped out by primary and secondary oil recovery. Relatively high oil prices give oil producers enough incentive to use these expensive methods to pump out all the available oil.

It's amazing. But of course, what involving American ingenuity isn't amazing?

It's hardly shocking that geologists, engineers and drillers find ways to produce greater volumes of oil and natural gas. But it is pleasantly surprising that once vexing problems, like cost and supply of domestic oil was for nearly 40 years, can be effectively solved.

Here's another shocker — U.S. oil production has grown to the point that it's projected to export 4.9 million barrels a day by 2023. That's more than double current exports.

Making circumstances even better is that as production increases, U.S. conservation efforts also are paying off.

That's a good thing, because prognosticators expect oil to be the fuel that drives the American economy for years to come.

Remember that once-ridiculed slogan — "Drill, baby, drill" — about U.S. oil production that supposedly enlightened people liked to ridicule? There, obviously, was more to it than the skeptics realized.

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