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For decades, America’s consumption of crude oil has left us in a highly vulnerable position. To meet their energy needs, American consumers and businesses have been subject to the production whims and price manipulation of crude oil by OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). Driven by its de facto leader Saudi Arabia, OPEC is a 14-nation oil cartel that dominates the global oil industry landscape, producing nearly one-third of the world’s crude oil.

In my Dec. 2 article, U.S. crude oil industry reigns supreme, I analyzed America’s recent crude oil resurgence and the key factor in this growth — America’s vast shale oil fields. These oil reserves contain some of the largest untapped deposits of crude oil in the world. Shale oil deposits are crude oil trapped inside tiny, low-porous holes within the shale rock. Before recent technological advancements, these massive oil deposits could not be cost-effectively captured. Today, those rich shale deposits are yielding crude oil in record volumes.

The recent transformation of the U.S. crude oil industry is simply without precedent. Over the past two years, U.S. crude oil production has increased 40 percent to 12.1 million barrels per day, an all-time high. In November, the U.S. overtook both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil.

According to the latest projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its just-released 2019 World Energy Outlook, America’s crude oil resurgence has only just begun. The IEA is a Paris-based organization that tracks and analyzes global trends in energy consumption and production. Over the next five years, the U.S. crude oil industry is expected to account for 70 percent of the world’s increase in crude oil production.

America’s crude oil exports have also soared to record levels. In 2012, America exported, on average, just 67,000 barrels per day of crude oil. Today, America’s oil exports are more than 3 million barrels per day and rising. By 2021, exports should reach 4.2 million barrels per day, overtaking Russia and closing in on Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest exporter of crude oil.

The key benefit for America is energy independence. Crude oil’s many distillate products — gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and heating oil, among others — are the lifeblood of our economic growth. In fact, crude oil accounts for 37 percent of U.S. energy consumption, followed by natural gas (29 percent) and coal (13 percent). On the global stage, the U.S. consumes 20 percent of the world’s crude oil usage. China, the world’s second-largest consumer of crude oil, accounts for 13 percent of the world’s consumption.

Even with the recent boom in U.S. production, America’s shale oil fields lie virtually untapped, ready to unleash its vast reserves of crude oil. Despite a weakening global economy, the world’s appetite for crude oil is expected to grow. And America’s crude oil industry is more than willing, and capable, to satisfy that growing demand.

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Mark Grywacheski spent more than 14 years as a professional trader in Chicago, where he served on various committees for multiple global financial exchanges and as an industry Arbitrator for more than a decade. He is an expert in financial markets and economic analysis and is an investment advisor with Quad-Cities Investment Group, Davenport.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Any prices or quotations contained herein are indicative only and do not constitute an offer to buy or sell any securities at any given price. Information has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee that the material presented is accurate or that it provides a complete description of the securities, markets or developments mentioned. Quad-Cities Investment Group LLC is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.