EIA Forecasts Bright Energy Future Thanks to Hydraulic Fracturing

Published August 8, 2012

An abundance of domestic energy will enable the United States to cut in half its reliance on oil from the Middle East by the end of the decade, and could end any reliance at all by 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

New Technologies Boost Outlook

America’s bright energy outlook is due to new technologies for hydraulic fracturing, extraction from oil sands, and deep-sea oil recovery, EIA explains in a newly released report. EIA, for example, expects energy producers to more than double oil production in the rich Bakken shale formation in North Dakota during the next 20 years. Recent advances in hydraulic fracturing make such Bakken oil production economically possible, EIA explains.

Activists Threaten Production

EIA’s promising domestic energy forecast may nevertheless be derailed by environmental activists and government officials clamping down on energy production. Activist groups such as the Sierra Club oppose hydraulic fracturing, citing water pollution fears.

Federal, state, and local officials have scrutinized hydraulic fracturing for decades and have yet to document any instances of groundwater pollution from hydraulic fracturing. Even so, politicians have banned hydraulic fracturing in many states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sending signals it may severely restrict hydraulic fracturing in the near future.

Game-Changing Resources

“Hydraulic fracturing is a game-changing opportunity that can drive the nation’s energy future,” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. “The shale energy revolution is doing more than helping workers and the economies of several of our states. It’s also contributing to a tilt in the world’s energy axis toward the Western Hemisphere and toward the United States. This realignment could affect the global energy landscape and economy for the rest of the century.”

In addition to the Bakken formation in North Dakota, the EIA report forecasts higher oil and natural gas output from the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas, the Permian Basin that spans much of Texas and New Mexico, and the Monterey shale formation in California.

“The EIA report confirms that although America acts like an energy poor nation, we are in fact an energy rich nation,” observed Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute. “North Dakota alone already produces more oil than OPEC nation Ecuador, although that is only occurring because the oil is on private land rather than federal land. The federal government has outlawed oil production on federal lands with much more oil than North Dakota.

EIA findings suggest American production from eight substantial oil plays will more than double to 1.23 million barrels each day between now and 2035—as long as environmental activists don’t shut it down. 

The Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in North Dakota are the highest oil producers in the nation. In April of this year the two sites produced 545,000 barrels per day, data from the North Dakota Industrial Commission show. Production in the Eagle Ford formation is rapidly growing also, and may soon overtake Bakken and Three Forks production.

The Utica shale formation in Ohio is also very promising, according to EIA, though analysts have yet to get a good handle on how much energy production is possible there. 

The EIA findings bode well for job creation, energy prices, and wealth creation.

“Many Americans are already aware that increased domestic oil and natural gas production as a result of hydraulic fracturing is putting hundreds of thousands of people to work, revitalizing local communities, and delivering added billions in revenues to state and federal governments,” Gerard said.

Cheryl Chumley ([email protected]) is a digital editor with Times247.com.