“U.S. Inches Toward Goal Of Energy Independence” (news article, March 23) adds fuel to a growing but unfounded perception that recent increases in domestic oil production means we will someday be able to forgo imported oil altogether.
There is no question that production has increased. This, however, constitutes less than five percent of total U.S. consumption. While any reversal in production decline is encouraging, this is far from a cause for exuberance, let alone long-term confidence in our prospects for energy independence.
The current gap between U.S. crude oil production and consumption remains near nine million barrels per day. This is not a trivial obstacle: maximum U.S. production has declined from 10 million barrels in 1970 to 5.7 million barrels today.
Even assuming the most optimistic published estimates of U.S. crude oil production growth, we would be left with a gap of six million barrels per day. Those who predict energy independence need to demonstrate how this gap will be filled, particularly given the precipitous decline rate of wells that contribute to higher production.
Arthur E. Berman
Petroleum Geologist, Managing Editor of TheOilDrum.Com, and Director, Association For The Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA
Sugar Land, Texas