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PAIR-O-GRAPHS: The coming explosion in US oil production. Looney or no?
“I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.” Yes, Saturday morning child, you recall that Bugs Bunny classic. Recent months have brought increasingly amplified pronouncements (here and here and here) on a new variation: “I am America, petro-state. I own unconventional and offshore oil.” The latest crystal-balling comes from Harvard Belfer Center fellow and former Italian oil exec Leonardo Maugeri. His paper Oil: The Next Revolution prophecies an “unprecedented upsurge” in crude supplies. He’s most excited about U.S. production from the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing (but you can call me fracking). Eyeball the chart above, reproduced with permission, especially the dark green bar next to the U.S. See how it zooms up, passes Russia and approaches Saudi levels of 12-plus million barrels per day? That’s the idea. If that leads you muse about U.S. energy independence, several brainiacs consider you hare-brained (sorry). Michael Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations argues in a new paper the U.S. will keep burning more oil than we produce. And, he writes, even if Americans someday don’t import a single drop, we’d still be hostage to global uncertainty — because oil sells for a global price, everywhere. In the coming weeks, Marketplace will be reporting more on this emerging debate, looney or not.
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