In what is being called a significant turnaround from its earlier reports, the International Energy Agency is now predicting that it will take less than five years for the U.S. to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top oil producer. The annual long-term report, which IEA released Monday, suggests energy self-sufficiency in the U.S. will be a near reality by 2035.

Reuters noted Monday that the IEA says because it has seen a continued fall in U.S. oil imports, North America will become a net oil exporter by around 2030. What's more, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol says the U.S. will overtake Russia as the biggest gas producer by a significant margin in only two years.

According to the report: “The United States, which currently imports around 20 percent of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms — a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries."

Reuters said the forecasts by the IEA, which advises large industrialized nations on energy policy, were in sharp contrast to its previous reports, which saw Saudi Arabia remaining the top producer until 2035:
“Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America — and the energy sector,” the IEA said in the annual long-term report, giving one of the most optimistic forecasts for U.S. energy production growth to date.

“The recent rebound in U.S. oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity — with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge,” it added.
Read the Reuters story on the IEA report here.

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