The US Should Become The World's 2nd Biggest Oil Producer By 2020

Here’s more evidence that we’ve entered a new energy era, with the US climbing the ranks.  

The Harvard Kennedy School Of Government’s Leonardo Maugeri has published a paper called “The Unprecedented Upsurge Of Oil Production Capacity And What It Means For The World.”

He concludes that while macroeconomic noise is still too great to predict prices, it’s clear we’re in for something like a great moderation.

First, on the global side: Only four of the world’s big oil suppliers face a net production capacity reduction by 2020: Norway, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Iran, Maugeri writes. For the latter two, the loss of production is primarily due to political factors. All other producers are capable of increasing or preserving their production capacity.


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Photo: Leonardo Maugeri/Harvard Kennedy School

But the U.S. is going gangbusters. By 2020, we will only trail Saudi Arabia in terms of production capacity.

harvard chart

Photo: Leonardo Maugeri/Harvard Kennedy School

That projection even includes the following caveats:

  • Inadequate transportation
  • Environmental concerns about fracking
  • The country’s refining structure
  • The amount of associated natural gas produced with shale oil

The macro environment is still too hazy to predict where prices will go. Maugeri cites the following events that would instantly disrupt markets:

  • A new worldwide recession
  • Drastic retraction of the Chinese economy, or 
  • A sudden resolution of the major political tensions affecting a big oil producer, which “could trigger a major downturn or even a collapse of the price of oil, i.e. a fall of oil prices below $70 per barrel (Brent crude).”

But he concludes that as long as crude prices stay above $70, the U.S. is in good shape. “The shale/tight oil boom in the United States is not a temporary bubble, but the most important revolution in the oil sector in decades.” 

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