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U.S. is months away from being energy independent

Nov 27, 2019
3 min read
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In a pivotal shift, the U.S. is only months away from full energy independence as total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30 per cent by 2030, according to Rystad Energy’s latest forecast.

“This milestone follows a strong period of growth in both hydrocarbon and renewable resources, and we forecast that the US will have primary energy surplus – and not a deficit – by February or March 2020, depending on the intensity of the winter season,” said Sindre Knutsson, vice president on Rystad Energy’s gas markets team.

“Going forward, the United States will be energy independent on a monthly basis, and by 2030 total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30 per cent,” Knutsson added.

These developments are already in full swing. Rystad Energy predicts that the next monthly release from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) will reveal that the US has been self-sufficient in primary energy for a full 12-month period, from October 2018 through September 2019.

“This is the first time this will have happened since May 1982,” Knutsson observed.

This latest development spells out some broad implications on a number of fronts.

“In 2018, the United States had a petroleum deficit of $62 billion, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of the country’s overall trade deficit of $621 billion, including goods and services. These changes in the US energy balance could turn its petroleum deficit of $62 billion in 2018 to a surplus of $340 billion by 2030. That adds up to a $400 billion shift, in the space of only a dozen years, thanks primarily to the gargantuan rise of output from the US shale sector,” Knutsson said.

Rystad Energy forecasts total primary energy production will increase from 95 quadrillion Btu in 2018 to 138 quadrillion Btu in 2030. Crude oil and natural gas production will be the two main contributors to primary energy supply growth in the period, with oil accounting for 75 per cent of the growth and gas 38 per cent.

Crude output driven by production in the Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays is forecast to grow from 21.5 quadrillion Btu (10.32 million barrels per day) in 2018 to 39 quadrillion Btu (18.73 million bpd) in 2030. The growth in natural gas production is driven by supply increases in the Marcellus, Haynesville and Utica basins, but there is also a significant amount of associated gas from the Permian, which will bring total natural gas production to 40 quadrillion Btu (about 1.1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas) in 2030 compared to 29 quadrillion Btu (0.8 Tcm of gas) in 2018.

Rystad Energy forecasts that primary energy production from renewable sources, including hydropower generation, will increase from 11.7 quadrillion Btu (3.43 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity) in 2018 to 19 quadrillion Btu (5.57 trillion kWh of electricity) in 2030. This equates to 63 per cent growth, while growth from solar and wind is projected at about 357 per cent and 257 per cent, respectively.

Coal production, however, is forecast to fall 37 pre cent in the same period, decreasing from 15.3 quadrillion Btu (809 million tons of coal) in 2018 to 9.6 quadrillion Btu (492 million tons) in 2030.

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