LONDON - The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer by 2017, the West's energy agency said on Monday, predicting Washington will come very close to achieving a previously unthinkable energy self-sufficiency.
The forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises large industrialized nations on energy policy, were in sharp contrast to previous IEA reports, which saw Saudi Arabia remaining the top producer until 2035.
"Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America - and the energy sector," the IEA said in its annual long-term report, giving one of the most optimistic forecasts for US energy production growth to date.
"The recent rebound in US oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity - with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge," it added.
The IEA said it saw a continued fall in US oil imports with North America becoming a net oil exporter by around 2030 and the United States becoming almost self-sufficient in energy by 2035.