More Oil Pumping Won't Make U.S. Energy Independent

An article from the Atlantic says that as long as the U.S. economy is based on oil, it will still be vulnerable to the world market.

November 15, 2012
Manufacturing Group

Just because the United States is going to replace Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer does not mean that the country is on its way to energy independence, according to Jordan Weissman of the Atlantic.

The International Energy Agency recently released a report projecting the United States to reach that milestone around 2016, surging speculation that America is the next Saudi Arabia. But that is not completely accurate, according to Weissman.

“While we may soon produce as much crude as Saudi Arabia, we will not actually have the same power over world markets as Saudi Arabia, and thus oil will continue to be a political and financial pain in our side,” Weissman says.

Saudi Arabia has one of the largest oil reserves in the world and pumps more crude each day than any other nation without even tapping into its full potential. According to the Atlantic article, the country pumps enough oil to maintain a stable market, and leaves millions of barrels untouched for insurance.

Weissman argues that more drilling does not necessarily mean the United States will be energy independent:

“And because oil is a mostly fungible commodity traded worldwide, what happens to supply and demand in one corner of the planet impacts prices everywhere. If China and India start growing wildly again, or some sort of war causes prices to spiral, [the United States] won’t be immune.”

Finally, the best thing to do, in Weissman’s opinion, is to conserve our oil use to try to keep gas prices down. Conservation is the key to stop buying oil from countries other than in North America.

The short-term benefit of producing more oil could come at a cost in the long-term. The more oil the United States produces, the more the country will rely on oil, making green energy policies politically less important.