Roy Family Fellow, Geopolitics of Energy Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Although quite late, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has noticed that American crude oil production is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and that it will continue to do so. In a report published only one year ago, the Agency had largely underestimated the phenomenon, as had many others.
In its new World Energy Outlook 2012, the IEA now expects that the US will produce 11.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum and natural gas liquids (NGLs) by 2020, compared to little more than 8 million bpd in 2011. In a study published by the Harvard Kennedy School in June (Oil, the Next Revolution), I had hypothesized even higher American production, 11.6 million bpd by 2020. This did not include biofuels, which by that year could raise overall American liquids production to more than 13 million bpd. The additional studies that I am carrying out on more than 2,500 tight oil and shale oil wells in the United States lead me to believe that American production could be even higher by 2020 .Other observers have forecast similar growth rates during the same period or sooner (including Citibank).
But the IEA numbers suffer from more than tardiness. Read more