U.S. Poised To Be World’s Top Oil Producer, Part Of ‘The New Middle East’. The Bad News: We’ll Also Have Their Climate.

Drill, Baby, Drill Strategy Won’t Lower Gasoline Prices, Will Enrich Big Oil

North Dakota Oil Derrick. AP Photo.

This is a good news, bad news story, which the media, characteristically, gets half right.

The AP reports today:

U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer. Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day.

This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951….

The increase in production hasn’t translated to cheaper gasoline at the pump, and prices are expected to stay relatively high for the next few years because of growing demand for oil in developing nations and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa.

So much for consumers benefiting from Drill, Baby, Drill. But hey, at least America can be #1 again:

The Energy Department forecasts that U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels, will average 11.4 million barrels per day next year. That would be a record for the U.S. and just below Saudi Arabia’s output of 11.6 million barrels. Citibank forecasts U.S. production could reach 13 million to 15 million barrels per day by 2020, helping to make North America “the new Middle East.”

Here is the ironic cover of that recent 92-page Citibank  report (which, it must be noted, never mentions either “climate change” or “global warming” as potential risks to this scenario):

See, when your farmland turns into the Sahara thanks to unrestricted emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas, you’ll have a bunch of cool oil derricks to show for it.

And lest you were worried that there aren’t enough oil and gas shale plays to cover all our future Dust-Bowlified farm land, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has this reassuring chart of North American shale plays, which can be tapped by fracking and horizontal drilling:

You’ll note the extensive overlap with the updated National Center for Atmospheric Research maps of projected Dust-Bowlification if we don’t leave most fossil carbon and virtually all unconventional fuels in the ground:

The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) in the 2060s and 2090s in a moderate emissions path. A ”reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought.” The PDSI in the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl apparently spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely exceeded -3 for the decade (see here).

So who benefits from unrestricted drilling if not U.S. consumers or future generations? The AP notes:

The companies profiting range from independent drillers to large international oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, which increasingly see the U.S. as one of the most promising places to drill. ExxonMobil agreed last month to spend $1.6 billion to increase its U.S. oil holdings.

The article ends with the cheerful glass-is-one-tenth-full words of economist Philip Verleger:

Drivers will have to pay high prices, sure, but at least they’ll have a job.

He should have added “if you work in or near the industry.” As for your kids — and the rest of us — well, who really cares about kids or other people? Not brainless frogs.

Related Post:

17 Responses to U.S. Poised To Be World’s Top Oil Producer, Part Of ‘The New Middle East’. The Bad News: We’ll Also Have Their Climate.

  1. Solar Jim says:

    Waste deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on.

    G. W. Bush: “America is addicted to oil.” Yes, and we can partly thank his family for it.

    Well, at least we’ll be numero uno again for a brief moment in time (given how we seem to be greasing the skids for abrupt climate cataclysm).

  2. Ozonator says:

    So they haven’t produced jobs, haven’t produced clean air out of industrial vents and sewer pipes, haven’t bestowed royal titles onto GOP’s extreme gametes for their pro-life cost, haven’t produced any science from the plagiarism of their media outlets, and haven’t shown they don’t need subsidies to sell coal to China?

  3. Aussie John says:

    As one of the world’s biggest contributors of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, the US has a moral obligation to accept its responsibility; it should lead the way – join with other industrially powerful countries in addressing de-carbonisation of our atmosphere.
    It grates on my nerves each time I hear politicians claim allegiance and the blessing of God while vowing to continue evil policies that scientists have forewarned will inflict indiscriminate disproportionate damage to the poorest people on Earth, all to preserve their wasteful and bloated lifestyle for a few more years at the expense of all others.
    If by some miracle, a fair and just God did appear on Earth, U.S. politicians claim of being “god’s chosen” people would surely be immediately dashed – what ‘just’ God would support the inequity of such a wasteful greedy lifestyle by so few at the expense of destroying the Earth’s living environment? Billions of people and other living things consigned to perish through hardship, anarchy, starvation and loss of habitat cannot be justified.
    Our only hope to save Earth’s living environment is to challenge the current “status quo” of environmentally irresponsible big business utilising our media and politicians to promote growth of unsustainable consumption and short term profits for the wealthy few.
    Only the citizens themselves are left to express concerns directly to US political leaders and the elites of big business. The restoration of some practical reality to the operation of human society has fallen back to the citizens “on the ground”; by employing the only resource left open to them – popular coordinated “people power” through the internet and social media.
    Climate activists could follow the example of the successful on line and social media campaign that was so spectacularly successful in addressing disgraceful comments by a bullying radio “shock Jock” regarding our Australian Prime Minister.

  4. Andy Hultgren says:


    The irony in that Citibank report title is priceless, thank you for pointing it out!

    That is a series of slides just waiting to be made into a public talk (citibank report title and image, image of Saudi desert, image of shale plays, image of future drought conditions). Visually very compelling, great ironic pivot.

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals…

    Must see video…

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr: What Must Be Done to Bolster the U.S. Economy
    One of the most important issues in this year’s election is energy. Our ongoing addiction to Mideast oil leaves us dependent on countries that are often unstable and hostile. Developing our own domestic energy resources and investing in renewable energy lessens t…

    Climate Portals Kennedy gives the example of a solar plant being built in the Mojave Desert. The plant will be one of the largest power plants in the U.S. and will be completed in three years.

    Coal plants take 10 years to build, Kennedy points out, and nuclear power plants can take as many 30 years.

    The solar plant costs $3 billion a gigawatt versus $15 billion for a nuke plant, one-fifth of the cost.

    Alternative energy sources like solar and wind are not only environmentally-friendly policies, but they’re also smarter economic choices too, Kennedy says.
    a few seconds ago · Edited · Like

    Climate Portals “Jobs in the wind and solar industries are high paying, plentiful and are restoring the U.S. manufacturing sector, Kennedy says.

    “We’re employing more people in the wind industry than there are coal miners in America,” he points out.

    “Today there’s less than 14,000 miners in West Virginia and less than half of them are unionized. They have very little if any job security or pensions. The mountains of that state are being liquidated for cash, the communities are being destroyed and it’s the second poorest state in our country.

  6. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    “Drivers will have to pay high prices, sure, but at least they’ll have a job.”

    When you can’t afford food, you probably can not afford a car either. And you also can not afford the air conditioning, when heat indexes in the south east approach that of the persian gulf region, it will be impossible to live without constant a/c for much of the year. Much of the southern united states will be uninhabitable by century’s end, based on the projections for temperatures and drought conditions. Being that these projections did not likely include the fact that we already lost half the arctic ice cap, with a very high chance of complete meltdown by summer 2020, much of america may be uninhabitable much sooner than forecast (within this generation?).

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    So, when the science tells us that we must urgently de-carbonise, what do the Masters do? Why, go hell for leather to produce more hydrocarbons, with increasing pollution, contamination of groundwater and spiraling energy investment required for smaller and smaller energy return per unit of energy invested. And concerted and unrelenting sabotage of renewables. As I’ve said, there cannot really be any doubt now that they want the ecological catastrophe to occur. The reason why remains the question of questions.

  8. Ozonator says:

    Since we all all looking for the next Romney lie-to-get-elected, geologists (99% EssoKochs) now won’t be held responsible for anything from the giant sink hole in Louisiana to their temperature and CO2 predictions that will only benefit man (not those women who confuse GOP candidates). For example, “We Can’t Predict Earthquakes—And We Shouldn’t Scapegoat Scientists” (By Glenn Harlan Reynolds;, 10/23/12).

  9. Ken Hall says:

    Aussie John, You are of course absolutely correct; however I would add the caveat that the only way the masses will ever be able to rise up is for them to stop adding to the masses of humanity. Withdrawing the corporate farming methods currently employed would undoubtedly lead to mass starvation and likely world war as the have countries continue to take from the have not’s. The only reason there are more than 7 billion ravenous homo sapiens consuming the Earth’s resources at an exponentially increasing rate is because we have been converting carbon sequestered by the Earth over hundreds of millions of years into food in the mere snap of your fingers length of time (100-150 years). Unfortunately the capitalism paradigm is built around exponentially increasing consumption which leads to exponentially an increasing human population and the trap is sprung. Watch yourself when the jaws clamp together; TSWHTF.

  10. John McCormick says:

    Mulga, they are gamblers and, for the moment, are winning big time. Why would they want to leave the table?

  11. Dave Bradley says:

    We now make around 1million bbls/day renewable liquid fuel (transport fuel) – mostly EtOH. So take that away and that leaves around 9.7 mbd of crude liquid fossil fuels. And we are pretty close to maxxed out on that, but we still need to import about 8 to 9 mbd crude. We can only keep up with just maintaining this domestic production rate by using fracking sourced oil that now costs around $80/bbl to produce, and will soon go well over $100/bbl to make once the “sweet spots” get tapped out. Oil flows in these wells drop by close to 50% to 90% within a year from initial production rates….

    In what universe is this maintainable? The fracked oil is a quick one time boost that could last MAYBE up to 5 years. We can only get around the oil uses/import economic disaster (and also long term enviro disaster) by weaning ourselves off of oil by getting efficient, really fast. At around $200/bbl for oil, we might be able to double or triple biofuels production (cellulose based) rates, but we are unlikely to ever make 8.6 mbd of gasoline (2008 usage rates) from domestic sources. Ever. And since oil seems to double in price every 5 years….. Well, that’s just got no future.

    But, Citi can make a lot of short term money on this, unlike fracking sourced natural gas, which actually faces competition from wind turbines (but not solar PV, as that is too expensive… And PV capacity is not the same as PV production…).

    So, Citi is in the smelly fertilizer production biz. So what’s new…

  12. Ken Barrows says:

    “Could” overtake Saudi Arabia, but won’t. Not unless oil prices rise way above what the economy could support.

    Also it says “crude and other hydrocarbons.” It’s throwing ethanol in there.

  13. Ken Barrows says:

    I still think it’s throwing ethanol in the 10.9 number, but ethanol is not a hydrocarbon. 10.9 million is a lot more than crude + condensate. It’s a very misleading article.

  14. SqueakyRat says:

    A huge proportion of the 11.4/mbd figure for the US is not petroleum but biofuels. The US will never match the Saudis in crude oil production.

  15. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    The claim tha the US is producing almost 11 million barrels a day is suspicious, to say the least. The website above gives the figures that are most commonly cited, these figures probably do not include alaska, and current production has probably reache 7.5 million barrels a day,no where near 11 million. Are they including propane? still, i dought we produce millions of barrels a day of propane. Maybe natural gas equivalent, although NG is not a liquid fuel. Someone should find out where these stats came from, never trust citibank!

  16. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    I noticed that “gas liquids” is 1.7 million barrels a day, plus a million for ethanol does get close to 11 million, are the saudi’s figures only oil,or do they include other liquids like propane? Certainly, they do not include a mbd of corn ethanol!

    Like everything else that comes from citibank, this report is very misleading.