THE default setting for a national energy policy in this country is inertia. We don't do much to advance a policy to promote greater independence. We actually do some things to promote more reliance on foreign supplies. But mostly we sit around and talk about the need for a comprehensive energy plan.
While we're talking, the supply of energy is walking and it's moving west, from the Mideast to the Americas. Decreasing foreign oil dependence is happening by default and it's happening because of technology and free enterprise and despite U.S. government policy and interference.
International energy companies have a choice, says The Wall Street Journal's Guy Chazan. “They can either invest in oil that is easy to produce but located in politically volatile countries. Or they can seek opportunities in stable countries where the oil is hard to extract, requiring complex and expensive production techniques.”
None of this is news to oil patch insiders. What is new is the volume of supply from options that include Canadian oil sands, natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, shale oil and offshore oil throughout the Americas.
Conventional domestic petroleum supplies, particularly of oil, have been declining for years as foreign imports began to dominate. Hydraulic fracturing has opened vast reserves of natural gas. The tar sands play in Canada has propelled that country into the status of No. 2 (behind Saudi Arabia) in proven oil reserves. Massive amounts of oil are waiting to be tapped along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
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