The United States is Now the Largest Global Crude Oil Producer

The federal government estimates the United States likely surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest crude oil producer.  In February, U.S. crude oil production exceeded that of Saudi Arabia for the first time in more than two decades. In June and August, the United States surpassed Russia in crude oil production for the first time since February 1999.

Ten short years after all the so-called “smart money” was on Peak Oil Theory, which posited the world was running out of oil and global chaos would ensue as countries were plunged into economic turmoil and conflict as we waged war for the last remaining drops of oil. Today, America produces more oil that Saudi Arabia or Russia, and gas prices are more than a dollar lower per gallon than 2008.

How did the United States go from “running out of oil” to be the world’s largest producer? American ingenuity and a revolution in oil and natural gas technology known as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Fracking revolutionized oil and natural gas production in the United States because it allowed drillers to extract oil and gas from a rock known as shale. Geologists have known about oil and natural gas trapped in shale for decades, but they did not know how to remove the oil and gas from the rocks in a way that was economically viable.

Even though Minnesota doesn’t produce any oil, this news instructive to the decisions we make on energy and environmental policy. Anti-mining groups like the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy groups like to pretend that just because a resource was once not economically viable to develop, it will always be thus.

MCEA wrote as much in a recent editorial in the Star Tribune:

“Minnesota has vast titanium, manganese and copper-nickel resources. Geologists have known about these deposits since the 1940s, yet they remain undeveloped. The obvious question is why. The CAE report doesn’t really answer this question, though it implies permitting delays are to blame.

The truth is simpler: These projects are economically risky.”

There’s no doubt that economics used to be a key reason why these natural resources were not developed, but like oil and gas trapped in shale rocks, new technologies have made mining Minnesota’s mineral resources economically viable.

To quote a famous person from northern Minnesota, “the times they are a changing.” It’s finally time to mine Minnesota’s massive mineral resources.