During the presidential race of 2012 both candidates spoke often about the need to reduce dependence on volatile areas of the world for the nation's energy resources. As part of that argument, the term North American energy independence was thrown around a lot, and its meaning is pretty self-explanatory.
The good news is that in the months since the election, industry projections are looking ever better for North American energy independence to become a reality and not just a political buzz phrase. The impact of this sort of development is multifaceted, and in most projections would result in a major restructuring of global energy markets. Take a look at the facts and findings and you'll see why North American energy independence is a phrase that's here to stay.
A bright future for fracking
In the past few years, the natural gas industry has been revolutionized by the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. This horizontal drilling practice has allowed the gas industry to harness previously untapped resources from deep within the earth. As a result of fracking's widespread success, the Potential Gas Committee has increased the estimated gas reserves in the U.S. by 22.1% in comparison to the committee's 2010 estimate.
According to the PGC, the U.S. has somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,384 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources that have yet to be tapped. As gas production continues, the industry in the U.S. will continue to thrive, employing more people and supporting more rural communities along the way in states with known gas deposits such as Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.
Fracking is also being implemented in the oil industry. As with the shale gas resources that were considered previously unattainable, oil companies have found the same horizontal drilling techniques are viable for harvesting hard to reach crude oil. When compounded with offshore drilling practices, the United States has access to much more domestic oil than previously thought.
On the heels of other good news
The new projections brought on by the prevalence of fracking over the past few years are supplementing the good news that came out in late 2012 from the International Energy Agency. In its 2012 forecast, the IEA projected that the U.S. would become the world's top oil producer in 2017 and wind up as a net oil exporter by 2030.
Another report released by Citigroup in early 2013, "Energy 2020: Independence Day," suggests that the U.S. and its immediate neighbors could be even closer to energy self-sufficiency. Taken together, all these reports and projections paint a very positive picture of the future for North American energy independence.
As individuals reduce their consumption, governments continue to subsidize renewable energy development and industry pushes forward with innovative drilling practices, all evidence points to a North American continent that is moving closer to a future in which it controls its own energy policy rather than being dependent on nations with less than stable socio-economic systems.