Harry Garrett is a sophomore Political Science major from Las Vegas, Nevada. He became interested in politics after competing in Policy Debate throughout high school, where he was introduced to the complexities of international and domestic politics. He recently studied at the University of Cambridge over the summer, taking a seminar on international politics with some of the brightest students and professors from around the world. He is involved in debate, Model United Nations, Vanderbilt Television, and WVRU.
PIRA, a world leading oil consulting firm, recently reported that the United States surpassed Saudi Arabia in oil production, solidifying America’s place as the world’s top producer. This year, the United States produces 0.3 MMB/D (million barrels per day) more than Saudi Arabia and leads Russia by around 1.6 MMB/D. This continues the country’s growth rate of around 1 MMB/D from the last several years, trumping other top ten oil exporters.
Although many calculations evaluate crude oil figures solely, which would put the United States behind several other exporters, a total assessment of a country’s oil production includes natural gas, biofuel, and refinery levels. This gap has been filled by America’s natural gas abundance, producing around 2.5 MMB/D, biofuel initiatives, making up 1.0 MMB/D, and a growing refinery infrastructure that supplies 1.3 MMB/D.
Even more optimism for American oil production has come from the growth of crude oil over the past several years. While the United States is still behind countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia by 3MMB/D, new shale fracturing techniques have provided growth rates that have been unprecedented in modern history. Since 2009, America has seen crude oil production expand by 3.2 MMB/D, and except for Saudi Arabia during the 1970’s, no other OPEC country has seen close to the same levels of progression. The combination of expanding crude oil and alternative sectors will reinforce America’s position as the top producer and further develop the margin over competing exporters. With new demands for oil establishing around the world, the market for the United States will be conducive for years to come.
However, this development could substantially reorient American initiatives taken domestically and internationally. Progress in climate change reform, specifically green substitutes, could lose supporters, as an abundance of oil will erode the fear of peak oil and our reliance on foreign suppliers. A larger roadblock to climate reform will be from oil companies, who will be even more successful at blocking legislation from increased capital and societal influence. This could solidify the United States as the world’s top producer, but also worsen the sluggish nature of the country to act on global warming.
American foreign policy strategies could also be shifted, as foreign oil will gradually lose significance in diplomatic matters. Interventionist policies embraced by the United States during recent decades, have been heavily impacted by the country’s reliance on importing oil, specifically from Middle Eastern nations. With less dependency on OPEC nations, leaders will be less likely to expand American influence in the region, refocusing it to other parts of the world. This will complement Obama’s, “Asia pivot”, a policy to shift the military’s focus from the Middle East to Asia, potentially leading to aggressive action against a rising China or North Korea. However, Iranian proliferation, Syrian instability, and a questionable future in Afghanistan, could keep America’s attention to the Middle East.
[ Image Credit: http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/07/04/powers.oil.independence/t1larg.us.flag.oil.refinery.gi.jpg]