The evidence of the oil and gas boom fills almost every nook and cranny of the Weld County landscape as trucks caravan down the roads and oil rigs reach into the sky, all working day and night to mine that precious commodity that fuels not only our gas tanks, but jobs and local government coffers.
That added production is a cog in a much larger wheel moving North America toward energy independence, a dream of every president since Richard Nixon.
That means sending fewer American dollars overseas and providing for more stability when it comes to domestic energy supplies.
"The fact that we have open liquid markets, and global competition, certainly for oil and increasing global competition for gas, the U.S. will be in the catbird seat for a while," said Pete Stark, an oil and gas analyst with IHS in Denver. "Over this next decade, we might see exports more than double."
But greater production, higher exports and the promises of politicians are unlikely to translate into gasoline prices that are all that much cheaper at the pump.
The reason: simple supply and demand.
Weld will help contribute to the supply, but over the next 20 years, most of that demand will be far from the oil fields of Weld County.
Last year, even though the country produced 5.7 million barrels of oil per day, it had to import 8.9 million barrels of oil per day to satisfy domestic demand. Total U.S. crude oil production is on target to reach 6.4 million barrels per day this year, the highest for any year since 2003, according to the US. Energy Information Administration. Next year, the country is expected to produce 7 million barrels per day, still not enough to meet domestic demand.
The International Energy Agency, in its World Energy Outlook last month, said that with production growth in the United States, it could overtake production of Saudi Arabia by 2020 and could become self-sufficient in energy by 2035. That will move trade east to China.
In a news release, IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven stated North America is at the forefront of "a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world."
Advances in technology -- providing public policy doesn't put a halt to drilling and exploration -- are helping producers across the country pump more oil all the time, helping to satisfy more of the domestic demand.
"The benefits we'll realize immediately are less pressure for pushing oil over $100 a barrel and much less volatility in the price of oil, which causes anxiety and short-term price hikes," Stark said. "As those things moderate, the price at the pump will moderate. ... We're already seeing a moderation of volatility in world oil prices. The U.S. dramatically increasing oil production is helping to relieve a lot of pressure on the world."
What does energy independence mean?
The term "energy independence" has been coined to mean that a country's production surpasses its consumption. Oil independence, even if achieved, as some have predicted for North America by 2035, doesn't mean we erect a wall around North America and call it good.
"It just means on the back of an envelope, we'll produce more than we consume," Stark said.
But producing more of our own is bound to lower prices at the pump, though maybe not as much as some would think. Oil prices are set on a global scale, and they are expected to remain around the $100 a barrel mark, keeping gasoline prices from dipping below $3 a gallon.
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