U.S. to become World’s Top Liquid-Fuels Producer in 2013

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A pump jack in an oil well in Okhlahoma, US. Photo-Jonathan Wheeler
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A pumpjack in an oil well in Oklahoma, USA. BP’s Energy Outlook 2030 says that the US will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia to become world’s top liquid-fuel producer in 2013. Photo-Jonathan Wheeler

The U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia this year to become the largest producer of liquid fuels (oil, natural gas and biofuels), according to the latest report by the British oil major BP.

In November 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) had forecast that the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top oil producer by 2017.

According to BP’s Energy Outlook 2030, apart from rising production of shale oil and biofuels, the expected OPEC production cuts will also help the U.S. to surpass both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The report identifies long-term energy trends, building on the company’s Statistical Review of World Energy, and then developing projections for world energy markets to 2030, taking account of the potential evolution of the world economy, policy, and technology.

The Outlook’s overall expectation for growth in global energy demand for 2030 is 36% higher than 2011 and almost all the growth coming from emerging economies, particularly China and India.

The report noted the strong shift in supply patterns due to the increasing role of the unconventional energy sources, which is transforming the world’s energy and trade balance, and of the U.S. in particular. Due to increasing production and moderating demand, the U.S. is expected to be 99% self-sufficient in net energy by 2030, while it was only 70% self-sufficient in 2005.

“Strong growth in production from unconventional sources of gas and oil will have a major impact on global energy markets to 2030,” the report said. Unconventional sources including tight oil, oil sands and biofuels is expected to provide all of the net growth in global oil supply to 2020, and over 70% of growth to 2030.

“The speed with which tight oil is following shale gas has surprised us,” BP Chief Economist Christof Ruehl said on a conference call with reporters.

The report pointed out that although major shale gas and tight oil resources exist around the world, significant exploitation of these resources has so far taken place only in North America and by 2030 will continue to dominate production of these resources.

BP Group Chief Economist Christof Rühl said: “Vast unconventional reserves have been unlocked in the US, with oil production following gas. This delivery has been made possible not only by the resources and technology, but also by ‘above-ground’ factors such as a strong and competitive service sector, land access facilitated by private ownership, liquid markets and favourable regulatory terms.

“No other country outside the US and Canada has yet succeeded in combining these factors to support production growth. While we expect other regions will adapt over time to develop their resources, by 2030 we expect North America still to dominate production of these resources.”

Map of Shale Basins in the US
Map of Shale Basins in the US. Image-GeoCommons

Some of the major highlights of the Energy Outlook 2030 report:

– The Outlook shows global energy demand continuing to increase at an average of 1.6% a year to 2030.

Oil is expected to be the slowest growing of the major fuels to 2030, with demand growing at an average of just 0.8% a year. However, demand for oil and other liquid fuels will be 16 million barrels a day higher in 2030 than 2011. Almost all of the net demand growth will be from China, India and the Middle East will together account for almost all of net demand growth.

– Increasing production from new tight oil resources will result in the US overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of liquids in 2013. US oil imports are expected to fall 70% between 2011 and 2030.

OPEC’s share of the oil market is expected to fall early in the outlook, but is expected to rebound somewhat after 2020.

Natural gas is expected to be the fastest growing of the fossil fuels – with demand rising at an average of 2% a year. Non-OECD countries will generate 76% of demand growth.

Shale gas supplies are expected to meet 37% of the growth in gas demand and account for 16% of world gas and 53% of US gas production by 2030. Though the North American shale gas production growth is expected to slow after 2020, by 2030 North America is still expected to account for 73% of world shale gas production.

Coal is expected to be the slowest growing major fuel, with demand rising on average 1.2% a year to 2030. India is expected to overtake US as second largest coal consumer in 2024.

Nuclear energy output is expected to rise robustly to 2030 at around 2.6% a year. China, India and Russia will together account for 88% of the global growth in nuclear power. China is expected to overtake the US as the largest producer of nuclear power in 2026.

– The growth in hydroelectric power is expected to moderate to 2.0% a year to 2030, with growth led by China, India and Brazil. For Brazil in particular, hydro is expected to account for 72% of power demand by 2030 – and 32% of total energy demand.

Renewable energy will continue to be the fastest growing class of energy, gaining market share from a small base as they rise at an average of 7.6% a year to 2030. Including biofuels, renewables are expected to have higher share of primary energy than nuclear by 2030

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