High oil prices -- over $100 per barrel -- have made new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling economically and even politically viable in the U.S., leading to significant increases in the production of unconventional oil and gas.
Last week, the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, said the U.S. during the present quarter will become the leading producer of liquid fuels outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Additional production of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel pushed total production of liquid fuels in the U.S. to 11.2 million barrels per day (bpd), ahead of Russian production.
Also, the U.S. is the third-largest producer of crude oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.
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Oil and gas production in the U.S. has reached 10.28 bpd, very close to Russian production of 10.81 bpd.
In fact, the U.S. became a net exporter of refined oil products in 2011, which hadn't been seen since 1949.
There is increasing evidence that this transformation is sustainable.
In August, the U.S. Energy Information Administration confirmed increases in "proven" reserves of oil and gas, or those that can be extracted and commercialized under current conditions. Oil reserves grew by 15 percent to the highest level since1985, while gas reserves increased 10 percent to the highest level since 1977.
Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.
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