U.S. oil production surged almost 14 percent in 2012, despite falling domestic consumption. Production is projected to further accelerate in 2013.
The American Petroleum Institute reported that the average daily output of crude oil jumped 779,000 barrels a day last year, the biggest increase in history. New technologies, especially hydraulic fracturing, have opened up vast, previously inaccessible oil deposits for extraction.
At the same time, domestic oil consumption fell in 2012 to the lowest level in 16 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, which attributed the decline to the sluggish economy and stricter fuel economy standards. Also, oil imports fell 6.9 percent in 2012.
As a result of the converging trends, the U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time since 1949, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.
The U.S. is becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources. That's a good thing.
Energy independence is not just an economic issue but a security issue, as the armed siege in Algeria makes clear. Terrorists believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida seized a remote natural gas installation and took dozens of hostages. Algerian news reports that 37 hostages, including three Americans, were killed. Algerian forces launched a series of assaults on the complex during which scores of hostages were rescued or escaped, including seven Americans. . . .
That's all the more reason for the U.S. and Canada to continue increasing their own oil production. The technologically driven resurgence of domestic oil production has the potential to make the Middle East almost irrelevant to America's energy supply by 2025 and thus neutralize this newest terror tactic.
Developing our own energy reserves also is producing jobs and reviving the economy. . . .
This is a historic opportunity the U.S. must not squander.
* This is a guest editorial from The Paducah (Ky) Sun.