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The United States has been a commodity producing giant for over a century. And so, in one sense, there is nothing new in its latest emergence as a major energy exporter. The US contains the world’s largest coal reserves, with exports nearly tripling in the decade from 2002-2012. And even at the low points of US natural gas and oil production—approximately in the year 2005—the US was still the single largest producer of natural gas globally, and, produced more daily oil than Iran, or Iraq, or Canada. However, it’s been the remarkable change in the country’s oil balance sheet that has grabbed headlines the past several years. Growing oil supply by a million barrels per day each year, while reducing oil consumption at the same time, has greatly reduced the US call on global oil.
Accordingly, the world has become unwittingly dependent on this the strong rate of US supply growth, reflected mainly in the stable price of oil. Should US oil supply growth slow, however—and we think it will—the price sensitivity to such a change will be far higher than global oil markets currently anticipate.