Texas Shale Puts U.S. Back on Top in Oil Producing
Once upon a time, way back when, the United States was at the top of the oil-production food chain, because, basically, you could poke a hole in the ground seemingly just about anywhere and the black gold would come bubbling up. (Seriously, that's basically what happened when they dug down 1,139 feet and Spindletop started gushing in Beaumont.)
Photo from Wikipedia First Texas had Spindletop, now it's shale oil.
Well, all of that changed over the course of the 20th century as the U.S. turned from being one of the biggest oil producers to being a country that ate up as much oil as we produced and then eventually started importing oil to keep everyone sated and oil-filled and happy.
Of course, all the while, Texas was one of the main producers of the stuff -- oil was called Texas Tea for a reason -- but after the energy crisis of the 1970s (we were running out of oil) and bust of the 1980s (there was lots of it and prices tanked), it seemed like the U.S. would never again produce more oil than it imported, and would always be showing up at the backdoors of other countries and leaning hard on OPEC (a.k.a. the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a cartel that works together to line up their oil policies) to keep the oil flowing in.
This is the first time the production/import balance has shifted away from bringing oil in since 1997, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Energy Department.
But then the shale plays started booming thanks to slant drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that came right out of Texas. Before these dense, brittle formations deep below the surface started bubbling up crude oil a couple of years back, it seemed as if our time as an oil giant was a thing of the past, but the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, the Barnett Shale in North Texas (though this one is mostly natural gas, it got the shale fad started) and the Cline Shale in West Texas have changed all of that.
(Note: There's also the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and the Bakken in North Dakota, but the Marcellus is mostly natural gas and Bakken is basically in the middle of nowhere, so we're being a little snotty and lumping them over here in this little aside to you, avid reader.)