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US Could Become an Energy Exporting Country

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Workers work on a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Pennsylvania. New techniques are increasing oil production in the U.S.
Workers work on a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Pennsylvania. New techniques are increasing oil production in the U.S.

Experts say increased production of oil and gas in the United States, along with production cuts by OPEC, could lead to an American energy surplus.

Adam Sieminski is head of the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Recently, he said demand for energy in the U.S. has grown slowly while production has increased notably. This imbalance could mean the U.S. would have an energy surplus.

“The U.S. could become a net energy exporter...”

Industry experts say production increases are the result of greater use of technologies that make recovery of oil and gas more effective.

Sieminski says the production increases mean the U.S. could have more energy than it can use.

During 2014, world oil prices began to drop sharply as supplies increased and demand weakened.

When a price drop happens, major oil producing countries often try to cut their output. But members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – or OPEC – did not seek to do this for a long time.

Experts say OPEC hoped low prices would push competitors with higher production costs out of the market. These competitors included U.S. companies that use technology such as hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, to drill for hard-to-get oil and gas deposits.

Amos Hochstein is an energy expert with the U.S. State Department. He says American producers answered OPEC’s bet by becoming more efficient.

“The resilience of production meant for OPEC, the U.S. wasn’t going away, shale (oil) production wasn’t going away, so letting it (the price of oil) ride low is not going to be the answer...'

OPEC answered the long price drop only late last year, with members agreeing on some production cuts. Some OPEC members, including Venezuela, and even top producer Saudi Arabia, are facing budget deficits because of the big drop in income from oil.

Worldwide crude oil prices have increased since OPEC and some other large producers first announced an agreement to cut production. Among the non-OPEC countries agreeing to reduce output is Russia. However, for the second time in recent years, Indonesia suspended its membership over the issue of production cuts.

Benjamin Zycher is an expert with the American Enterprise Institute. He says producers now face very difficult decisions about whether decreasing oil output will help them. He says the deal reached last year might not last.

“I think that the agreement is unlikely to hold...”

Some experts note that as prices increase, fracking producers will have a bigger reason to expand production still more. That, they say, could force prices down once again.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Jim Randle reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Words in This Story

net adj. what remains after subtracting imports, the balance of

hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – n. forcefully injecting material into the earth to release oil and gas deposits

deposit – n. an amount of a mineral resource existing underground

resilience – n. the ability to recover from a setback, difficulty or problem

shale oil – n. oil recovered by processing shale rock that contains oil

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