What's a Mideast oil sheik to do? Not to be insulting, but the sultans should be very, very worried about Western Hemisphere energy trends. Oklahomans, on the other hand, should be very, very pleased.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, quoted Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, said that by 2035, oil shipments from the Middle East to North America “could almost be nonexistent.” Just eight years from now, nearly half of oil consumed in the United States will be produced here and 82 percent will be produced either in the U.S. or elsewhere in the Americas.
This is good news for Americans and especially good news for Oklahomans. Many hot producing areas are either in Oklahoma or ones in which state-based companies have a strong interest, particularly the Bakken Shale play in North Dakota and Montana.
Here's another trend that has to be alarming to the sheiks: Eastern European countries that have been as dependent on Russia for oil as the U.S. has been on Saudi Arabia are tapping their own resources using technology and expertise developed in the United States.
What's driving the trend toward intracontinental energy independence isn't government policy (we'd argue that it's happened in spite of that policy) but the innovation, enthusiasm and know-how of U.S. and Canadian energy firms. Technology and market forces are tapping reserves previously off limits. Canada's tar sands are a prime example and at the forefront of the Keystone XL pipeline project stalled by the Obama administration.
Other trends counter this rosy picture of energy independence. Key among them is the unwillingness to continue using the vast supply of American coal for power generation. What happened millions of years ago in Wyoming may stay in Wyoming.
But Oklahoma's oil and gas won't stay here. The nation will buy it — and avoid having to get it from a most unstable region of the world.