The Wall Street Journal reports:
So long as the U.S. remains the world’s biggest net importer of crude oil, currently taking in nine million barrels per day, it isn’t likely to become energy independent anytime soon. Yet its growing presence as an overall exporter of fuels made from crude gives it greater influence in the global energy market.Now if we were just allowed to explore and produce our own energy reserves which increasingly seem to be far more abundant than prior estimates have indicated. We could retain billions of dollars that we have been sending overseas and further increase revenues by creating jobs and expanding the tax base. If we were allowed.
If the trend toward net exports persists, it could also influence the national political debate over U.S. energy policy, which has been driven primarily by concerns about upheaval in the Middle East over the past decade. The independence of the U.S. from foreign oil sources has long been a lightning-rod issue in Washington, one further inflamed by last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Supporters of off-shore drilling have used the desire for independence to push their cause, setting up a battle with environmental groups and others who prefer a shift away from carbon-based fuels.
The growth in exports is part of a “transformation of the energy system,” says Ed Morse, global head of commodity research at Citigroup Inc. “It’s the beginning signs of a process that will continue for the next decade and will point toward energy independence.”
The reversal raises the prospect of the U.S. becoming a major provider of various types of energy to the rest of the world, a status that was once virtually unthinkable. The U.S. already exports vast amounts of coal, and companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. are pursuing or exploring plans to liquefy newly abundant natural gas and send it overseas.