America has a long history of achieving the impossible. We defeated the British. We landed on the moon. We invented the Internet. And now we can add horizontal drilling to the list of American innovations that have changed the world forever.
By unlocking oil and natural gas resources that were once thought to be unrecoverable, horizontal drilling has sparked an American energy renaissance that will revolutionize everything from job creation to balance of trade to national security. This advanced technology allows us to drill two miles down, turn right, go another two miles, and hit a target the size of a lapel pin. With technological advances in horizontal drilling, oil imports have dropped 26 percent since 2008. By 2017, the United States is likely to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer.
Some may say this new abundance in oil and gas is due to hydraulic fracturing. However, fracking technology has been consistently in use for more than 60 years. What's new is horizontal drilling. In 2000, there were fewer than 50 horizontal drilling rigs in the U.S. and experts believed we had reached peak oil. In 2009, the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance issued its “Declaration of Energy Independents” due to the phenomenal turnaround caused by horizontal drilling.
By the end of 2012, there were nearly 1,200 horizontal drilling rigs in the United States. Raymond James, Citicorp and the International Energy Agency had all released reports declaring the reality of American energy independence by 2020.
Just as the American Revolution changed the world in 1776, so too will this modern-day American oil and gas revolution. Energy independence means we no longer have to rely on oil from the Middle East. It means the creation of more than a million high-paying jobs. And it means a solution to the U.S. debt crisis through a shift in the balance of trade.
Horizontal drilling has forged the path to energy independence, freeing us from unfriendly nations and financial disaster. On this Independence Day, as we look to the future of U.S. oil and gas production, we can once again celebrate the best of American innovation and perseverance brought to you by Americans at their best.
Hamm is chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc. of Oklahoma City.