2015: U.S. could be top oil producer

Sean Cockerham / McClatchy-Tribune News Service /

Published Nov 13, 2013 at 04:00AM

WASHINGTON — The United States will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest oil producer in 2015, the International Energy Agency forecasts.

But the IEA’s long-term energy outlook, released Tuesday, predicted the Middle East will retake its position a decade later as the dominant source of global oil supply growth.

American energy production is skyrocketing, led by Texas and North Dakota, as oil companies use the techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to tap oil and natural gas trapped in shale rock.

“Technology and high prices are unlocking new supplies of oil, and of course also gas, that were previously thought to be out of reach,” Maria van der Hoeven, the IEA’s executive director, said Tuesday.

The IEA, which advises governments on energy issues, said America’s ascendancy as the world’s oil king is coming sooner than expected, and that North America’s need for oil imports will all but disappear by 2035.

But the Middle East, boosted by a surge in Iraqi production, is expected starting in the mid-2020s to take back its role as the world’s oil powerhouse as America’s shale oil output peaks and then starts a decline.