Growing oil output means US should end export ban

North Dakota oil by Shutterstock.com

Article Highlights

  • Our ban on oil exports is merely a relic of the Arab oil embargo and Iranian Revolution in the 1970s

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  • The surge in US oil production has created many of jobs, boosted the economy, and reawakened American manufacturing

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  • We're not done - shale formations all over the nation, once tapped, could become titans of economic growth

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Somewhere in the vast expanses of North Dakota's Bakken shale formation, the idea that the United States would run out of oil came to end. Surging shale oil and natural gas production has turned conventional wisdom on its head about the nation's energy future.

Innovative uses of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked a bonanza of oil and natural gas trapped deep underground in shale rock.

Shale production is about to turn the country into a net exporter of natural gas, and oil is being produced at such a clip that crude imports have fallen this year to a 25-year low.

Remarkably, this oil and natural gas revolution is only in its infancy. While North Dakota's Bakken shale and Texas' Eagle Ford shale are driving new oil production, they may be small fields compared to what lies untapped.

Shale formations in West Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and California, once tapped, could become titans of economic growth.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration now estimates that the country holds 58 billion barrels of technically recoverable shale oil, an astounding amount considering shale oil production didn't exist a decade ago.

In 2012, U.S. oil production grew by 1 million barrels a day - faster than in any other country in the world.

This surge in energy production has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, pumped tens of billions of dollars into the economy and given new life to American manufacturing, which is supplying the steel, cement, equipment and machinery to drill thousands of new oil and gas wells each year.

Increased U.S. supply of oil has also strengthened our energy security and provided a valuable geopolitical tool.

Without new U.S. production, sanctions on Iran to stop its nuclear program would have been nearly impossible.

Increased U.S. oil production replaced Iranian output on the world market, allowing major importers of Iranian crude, like Japan and India, to find other suppliers and join the sanctions without placing undue strain on their economies.

The International Energy Administration predicts that U.S. oil production will grow another 3 million barrels per day in the next five years. But that's not guaranteed.

It will only happen if the U.S. government lifts a 1979 ban on crude exports.

Here's why: We're quickly running out of refining capacity to handle new shale oil production. If we don't lift our ban on oil exports - a relic of the Arab oil embargo and Iranian Revolution in the 1970s - we run the risk of capping production and impeding our own economic growth.

 

 

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About the Author

 

Mark J.
Perry
  • Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

    Follow Mark Perry on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202.419.5207
    Email: mark.perry@aei.org

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