In the twenty years following OPEC, the US oil and gas industry was significantly shaped by conflicting policies created in a chaotic, politically-charged environment. Those policies resulted in a drastic decline in activity in the industry, concerns about ‘energy independence’ and increases in imports to approximately 60% of US demand for crude by 2008. With the advent and wider-implementation of new exploration and production technologies, specifically horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, this picture has been altered. Since 2008, the US has sharply reduced dependence on imports to roughly 40% of domestic crude consumption; and, the US could become a net exporter of crude by 2030 as well as LNG. However, existing policies can impede reaching that goal. Further, new domestic demands for natural gas for electricity generation, industrial production, and transportation may alter this picture; and, changes internationally in sources of supply would result in increased competition for markets. Finally, uncertainties due to expanded environmental regulation or changes in tax treatment of the industry could increase finding costs and reduce drilling activity. When all of these factors are considered, the future of the US petroleum industry is not clear-cut.
Lorna Greening is co-editor of Energy Policy, an international peer-reviewed journal addressing the policy implications of energy supply and use from their economic, social, planning and environmental aspects. In addition to her responsibilities with the journal she is an economic consultant and researcher based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lorna received a BS from the University of Michigan, and later received a doctorate in economics from the Colorado School of Mines. She has well over 30 years of experience in the energy industry, including consulting, research, academia, the public utility industry, and the petroleum industry as an exploration geologist.