The International Energy Agency (IAE) says that by 2016 the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's biggest oil producer and is on track to become energy self-sufficient in two decades.
The IEA said Tuesday that for the next 10 years the recent U.S. and Canadian success with shale oil drilling and deepwater production in Brazil will reduce the role of the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as the world's most prominent oil producer.
But the Paris-based adviser to 28 energy-consuming nations said the U.S. position as the top world oil producer will end by the mid-2020s as resources diminish at the fields being tapped at the moment in the mid-country states of North Dakota and Texas. The IEA said Middle East countries will then provide most of the increase in the global oil supply.
In its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA said the U.S. is moving steadily "towards meeting all of its energy needs from domestic resources in 2035." Energy self-sufficiency has long been a goal of American leaders.
Across the globe, the IEA said the demand for energy will increasingly be driven by emerging economies, and that China will surpass the United States as the world's largest oil consumer by about 2030. The report said that China, India and the Middle East will drive global energy demand one-third higher.
But the IEA said energy security throughout the world is being undermined by high prices, with oil prices averaging more than $110 a barrel since 2011.
The IEA's executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, said that such "a sustained period of high oil prices is without parallel." But the agency predicted oil will go even higher, reaching $128 a barrel by 2035.
The IEA said that while the price of oil is "relatively uniform" worldwide, natural gas prices vary widely. With huge gas production in the U.S., the IEA said American consumers and businesses pay sharply lower prices than in Europe and Japan, where much of the fuel must be imported.