The domestic oil boom is poised to reach another milestone as projections have the nation's monthly crude oil production outpacing imports for the first time in almost 20 years.
Buoyed by booming shale plays in North Dakota and Texas, U.S. oil production will be 2 million barrels a day higher than imports by the end of 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Short-Term Energy Outlook.
"This projected change is primarily because of rising domestic crude oil production, particularly from shale and other tight rock formations in North Dakota and Texas," the agency noted on its website Wednesday.
After 2014, the gap between production and exports is expected to grow with domestic oil production skirting 8 million barrels a day by the end of 2014 while imports continue to wane. The gap could grow even faster if tight oil plays pan out better than expected.
But just because the domestic energy industry is ramping up—oil production increased by about a million barrels a day according to the EIA—that doesn't mean the U.S. can stop importing foreign oil tomorrow.
"The United States is a huge consumer of oil and even though domestic production is rising significantly and is now over 7 million barrels per day, last year we consumed around 18.5 million barrels of oil per day," says Aaron Brady. "The size of our demand is just so big that it would require many more years of increases in production to become totally self-sufficient."
Still, rising domestic oil production benefits the United States in various ways, Brady says. Not only does importing less foreign oil improve our trade balance, but it increases national energy security and supports thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industries.