U.S. reliance on foreign oil is declining

A drilling rig exploring for shale gas on April 27, 2011.

Demand for oil has been down in the U.S. since the 2008 recession. It's slowly creeping back up, but not as fast as oil companies are getting crude out of the ground in places like the shale oil fields of North Dakota.

That combination, of needing less and producing more, means U.S. oil imports will fall to record lows, and the International Energy Agency says the U.S. could be the world's largest oil producer by the end of the decade.

"That would be fantastic for the world, and great for the U.S.," says Alexander Small, who heads oil and gas job recruiting for The Laking Group, in London.

His firm just opened an office in New York, to help staff the shale oil boom. He says other countries are not necessarily jealous of the U.S. Now that American engineers have developed the know-how to get oil trapped in shale, others can benefit.

"What's going to happen is we're going to see a skill share around the world, and actually we'll be searching for oil in places we previously thought we'd be unable to find it," says Small.

He says that could stabilize prices for oil, or even lower them, in years to come.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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