The United States took another big step toward energy independence last week.
For the week ending May 31, the country produced 32,000 more barrels of oil a day than it imported, marking the first time since January 1997 that domestic production outpaced imports.
The report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that producers in the United States recovered 7.3 million barrels of oil per day last week, up 8,000 barrels per day.
At the same time, oil imports dropped 549,000 barrels per day to 7.27 million.
After climbing for decades, oil imports have dropped more than 72 percent since 2005 as domestic producers have combined horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing to extract oil from shale and other dense rocks.
Domestic oil production is up 46 percent from 2008.
The industry has long known the tough rock layers contained oil and natural gas, but it was uneconomical to produce it before new techniques became widespread.
Industry leaders, politicians and others have touted an increased reliance on domestic energy as a way to boost the U.S. economy while ending or reducing the billions of dollars the nation sends to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and other Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, many of whom are hostile to the United States.