The shale revolution in north America means the US is destined to become a net oil exporter within 10 years, for the first time since the 1950s. The International Energy Agency said it expected that American oil production between 2010 and 2025 would grow at a rate unparalleled by any country in history, with far-reaching consequences for the US and the world. The last time the US exported more oil than it imported was 1953, and a ban on oil exports was lifted only in 2015.
Technological developments in drilling and fracking since the turn of this century have unlocked huge reserves of gas and oil trapped in shale rock, and redrawn the energy landscape.
Americans now pay less for their petrol, while the oil being pumped from states including Texas and North Dakota has increasingly diminished oil cartel Opec’s ability to control global prices.
“The US is becoming an undisputed global leader in oil and gas production. It has major implications across the energy world,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the executive director of the lEA. The economist added that the expected rises in US oil production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s growth between the 1960s and 1970s, and the increase in American gas production would eclipse the Soviet Union’s gas growth when it exploited Siberian fields.
In a new report, the energy watchdog said the US’s reduced oil dependency would upend the international trade order. “Expansion on this scale is having wide-ranging impacts within north America, fuelling major investments in petrochemicals and other energy-intensive industries. It is also reordering international trade flows and challenging incumbent suppliers and business models,” the authors said.
Shell has completed the $3.8bn sale of a package of North Sea assets to Chrysaor following the approval of regulators and stakeholders. The package includes Shell’s interests in several fields – notably Buzzard, Beryl, Elgin-Franklin and Schiehallion.
Shell is aiming to sell $30bn of assets by 2018 as it seeks to pay off debt following its takeover of BG Group. More than 250 staff have transferred to Chrysaor as part of the transaction, which was first announced in January. The deal represents about half of Shell’s 2016 North Sea output.
A Shell spokesman said the company “retains a significant, more focused and strengthened presence in the UK North Sea, to which it remains committed”.
He added: “Completion of this deal shows the clear momentum behind Shell’s $30bn divestment programme and is in line with Shell’s drive to simplify the upstream portfolio and re-shape the company into a world class investment.”
The sale means Chrysaor has now become the largest independent operator in the North Sea.