The world’s top oil producer

Updated
 
In March, President Obama spoke at an oil and gas field on federal lands in Maljamar, N.M.
In March, President Obama spoke at an oil and gas field on federal lands in Maljamar, N.M.
Associated Press

Quick quiz: which country is slated to be the world’s larger producer of oil in 2017? If you guessed Saudi Arabia, you’re mistaken.

The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030, according to a new report released on Monday by the International Energy Agency.

That increased oil production, combined with new American policies to improve energy efficiency, means that the United States will become “all but self-sufficient” in meeting its energy needs in about two decades – a “dramatic reversal of the trend” in most developed countries, the report says.

“The foundations of the global energy systems are shifting,” said Fatih Birol, chief economist at the Paris-based organization, which produces the annual World Energy Outlook, in an interview before the release. The agency, which advises industrialized nations on energy issues, had previously predicted that Saudi Arabia would be the leading producer until 2035.

In the national elections that just wrapped up, it was fairly common to hear Republicans suggest President Obama and other Democrats are scaling back domestic oil production, and refuse to make use of domestic resources. The complaints seem a little silly in light of the International Energy Agency’s findings – not only is oil production up over the last four years, but the United States will soon pass the Saudis as the top oil producer on the planet.

What’s more, note that the IEA’s Birol said nearly half of the nation’s projected self-sufficiency is the result of “improving energy efficiency in the United States, primarily from the Obama administration’s new fuel economy standards for cars,” efficiency standards opposed by Republicans.

Indeed, the IEA’s report specifically emphasized the fact that “energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply.”

That said, the IEA emphasized that more energy efficiency is needed, here and around the world, and the growing global energy market “could make it even harder to prevent dangerous levels of warming.”

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The world's top oil producer

Updated