Together, rising oil production and shrinking demand should dramatically reduce U.S. imports, says the IEA. In 2011, they had already fallen to 9.5 million barrels a day, roughly half of U.S. consumption. But by 2035, the IEA expects net imports of only 3.4 million barrels a day. The decline is split roughly between higher production — including biofuels — and savings from greater fuel efficiency.
The IEA sees profound consequences. For starters, the long-standing U.S. trade deficit will narrow and might disappear. In 2011, oil imports represented two-thirds of the deficit in goods. While the United States will use less imported oil, it should also become a substantial exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG); until a few years ago, it “was expected to become a major importer of LNG.” Abundant and cheap natural gas should support a manufacturing revival by attracting energy-intensive industries such as “aluminum, paper or iron and steel, or . . . petrochemicals . . . where feedstock costs can represent over 80 percent of total operating expenses.”
Within a few decades, the United States could attain Nixon’s once-impossible goal.