The United States will become the world's largest oil producer byaround 2020, temporarily overtaking Saudi Arabia, as new explorationtechnologies help find more resources, the International Energy Agencyforecast on Monday.
The U.S. Energy Department said much the same in a report two weeks ago.
In its World Energy Outlook,the IEA also predicted that greater oil and natural gas production -thanks partly to a boom in shale gas output - as well as more efficientuse of energy will allow the U.S., which now imports some 20% of itsenergy needs, to become nearly self-sufficient around 2035.
Thatis "a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy-importingcountries," the Paris-based IEA said in its report. "Energydevelopments in the United States are profound and their effect will befelt well beyond North America - and the energy sector."
Rebounding U.S. oil and gas production is "steadily changing the role of North America in global energy trade," the IEA said.
Forexample, oil exports out of the Mideast will increasingly go to Asia asthe U.S. becomes more self-sufficient. That will increase the globalfocus on the security of strategic routes that bring Middle East oil toAsian markets. Tensions between Iran and Western powers have raisedconcern that oil exports from the Persian Gulf could be blocked in apotential conflict over Tehran's alleged plan to develop nuclearweapons.
The IEA said global trends in energy markets will beinfluenced by some countries' retreat from nuclear power, the fastspread of wind and solar technologies and a rise in unconventional gasproduction.
The agency concluded that despite the rising use oflow carbon energy sources, huge subsidies will keep fossil fuels"dominant in the global energy mix."
"Taking all new developmentsand policies into account, the world is still failing to put the globalenergy system onto a more sustainable path," the IEA said.
Globalenergy needs are forecast to increase by a third by 2035, with 60% ofthe additional demand coming from China, India and the Middle East.