New York Times: When America Stops Importing Energy
... The numbers tell the story: U.S. oil production has reversed its 30-plus year decline; U.S. imports from OPEC producers have fallen more than 20 percent in the past three years; U.S. natural gas reserves and production are up significantly and prices have dropped 75 percent in the past five years. The International Energy Agency forecasts that the United States could become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020 and may be energy self-sufficient by 2035. That’s a game changer.
While this is not a free lunch, it should not be feared. The production process is complicated and expensive, and if the industry is not careful there can be risks to the environment. But the potential is staggering. Significant domestic job growth and economic expansion has begun.
But let’s look beyond the impact on the United States and consider a few of the more profound implications for the rest of the world, because this revolution is also a game changer for international politics and the global economy. ...
... Like all revolutions, America’s new energy bonanza raises some fascinating questions. How might a lighter U.S. presence and heavier Chinese involvement change the world’s most volatile neighborhood? What can the next generation of Saudi leaders expect for their country’s future in a world where OPEC has lost much of its market power? Will Qatar’s support for Muslim Brotherhood governments in other Arab states and China’s interest in using the United Arab Emirates as an offshore trading center for its currency leave the Saudis dangerously isolated? Can Iran’s revolution survive the need to build a more modern economy?
A world in which the United States is less involved in answering these questions is a new world indeed.