Energy expert and oil historian Daniel Yergin says without the recent domestic boom in oil production, the United States would be in trouble.
“I’m convinced–were it not for what’s happened these last few years– we’d be looking at an oil crisis,” he said. “We’d have panic in the public. We’d have angry motorists. We’d have inflamed congressional hearings and we’d have the U.S. economy falling back into a recession.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Vice Chairman of global consulting firm IHS spoke Monday at the annual conference of the U.S. Energy Information Administration– the statistics arm of the federal Department of Energy.
“We still call them unconventional, but they’re becoming pretty conventional,” Yergin said of recent increases in domestic oil and gas production. “U.S. natural gas production’s up 34 percent since 2005. Recoverable reserves have doubled. Crude oil production is up 66 percent since 2008. We’re seeing a re-balancing of world oil.”
Given this changing energy landscape, Yergin says the United States should lift its ban on crude oil exports– rules imposed after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s.
“There would be foreign policy positives,” he said. “It would be a message to the world about a commitment to markets to energy security. For so many decades, the U.S. has preached to other countries, ‘Free flow of resources.’”
As for the carbon footprint of fossil fuels, Yergin says their use will be determined by global demand, and he’s talking instead about a supply issue.
“This does not affect demand in any significant way,” he said. “Demand is going to be shaped by other factors. The question really is who produces the oil and whether the financial and security benefits flow to the United States or to other countries”
IHS recently issued a special report– largely funded by the oil and gas industry– touting the benefits of lifting the crude oil export ban.