Oil production in the United States will reach its highest level in 26 years due to the discovery of large reserves of shale oil according to an estimate released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Due to a rise in domestic production, oil imports to the United States will fall, positioning the United States to reap the benefits of virtual energy independence by 2035. While imports of oil have declined since 2005, the discovery of large reserves of shale oil also signal the United States’ potential ability to overtake Russia as the largest producer of natural gas in the world and overtake Saudi Arabia by 2020 as the world’s largest single producer of oil. The process of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ to extract shale oil was refined since its advent in the 1950s to allow for the more economically efficient extraction methods employed today. This process is credited with the boost in production capacity that will enable the United States to secure energy independence. Of course, it is not without its opponents as many detractors cite its deleterious effects on the natural environment where it is employed.

[BBC]