President Obama is fond of iterating the only-technically correct factoid that, during his tenure, total U.S. oil production has increased — the only problem being that recent policy decisions tend to have little bearing on energy-sector metrics like total oil production (a reality of which I’m sure the president is perfectly aware, but chooses to deliberately mislead the public anyway).

Our country’s increased oil production is due largely to greater productivity on state and private land as well as technological innovation, not to mention the decisions that Obama “inherited” from his predecessors. Under the Obama administration, the rate of federal permitting has decidedly decreased, and the extent of the plans they’ve revealed for drilling opportunities thus far are not encouraging (cough cough, this).

As I’ve long maintained, if Americans really want to be energy independent, there’s no need to get federal policy enforcements involved — simply allow Americans to take full entrepreneurial advantage of our abundant natural resources, and we’ll become a net exporter without even having to try to engineer that outcome.

A new report from the International Energy Agency basically confirms as much, as reported by the WSJ:

A shale oil boom means the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, a radical shift that could profoundly transform not just the world’s energy supplies, but also its geopolitics, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

In its closely watched annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA, which advises industrialized nations on their energy policies, said the global energy map “is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States.” …

“By around 2020, the United States is projected to become the largest global oil producer” and overtake Saudi Arabia for a time, the agency said. “The result is a continued fall in U.S. oil imports (currently at 20% of its needs) to the extent that North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030.”

In their report just last year, the IEA had Russia and Saudi Arabia as the top two contenders, but the United States is set to outpace them both. This isn’t to say that Saudi Arabia will be out of a market — demand is coming on strong from growing economies like China — but the United States’ currently 20% imported oil supplies could easily be erased.

Much of this potential is being made possible by advances in hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, technology in unleashing the oil and gas trapped in tight rock formations. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has been somewhat less-than-keen to allow fracking too much leeway, because it’s a practice that lefty-environmentalists tend to very much hate.

The decisions being made by the Obama administration now are the decisions we’re going to be really feeling five, ten years from now — fingers crossed we get more than taxpayer-funded green-energy boondoggles out of this term. But I won’t hold my breath.