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IEA: US oil leader by 2017

Information released this week in London by the International Energy Agency said the United States is on track to become the world's largest oil producer by 2017.

The IEA also stated the U.S. will likely become a net oil exporter by 2030, a prediction that would have seemed far-fetched a few years ago.

The forecasts came as part of the IEA's release of its 2012 "World Energy Outlook" publication. Showing growing production and nearly universal talk within the industry of continued strong output for years to come, the Bakken has been central to the turnaround.

"North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world," said executive director Maria van der Hoeven in a release on the IEA website. "By 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. Energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply."

The IEA described the recent growth in oil and natural gas output in the U.S. as "extraordinary" and foreshadowed that it would mean a "sea-change in global energy flows." The IEA says that by 2035, 90 percent of the oil exported from the Middle East will go to Asia.

North Dakota has been a leader in domestic oil drilling, capitalizing on the rich deposits maintained under the surface in the Bakken. Technological advances in retrieval methods -- namely hydraulic fracturing -- in recent years has led to an explosion of production, jobs and oil-related activity in the region.

"North Dakota continues to set production records month after month," said North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources spokesperson Alison Ritter. "Daily output has increased five-fold over the last six years, with September's numbers totaling 728,000 barrels per day."

Through only three-quarters of this year, North Dakota has already surpassed its total of nearly 153 million barrels produced in 2011. Through September, the state has unearthed 174 million barrels of oil, according to numbers released this week by the DMR.

"The Bakken promises to stand, along with the Eagle Ford, as an area of major oil production for Marathon well into the future," said Marathon Oil Corp. Chief Operating Officer Dave Roberts on a conference call earlier this month. "Our view of the production potential of the (Bakken) has changed dramatically in the last five years. Our net peak rate projections are now reaching 50,000 barrels per day."

Marathon is producing about 33,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken, according to a recent earnings report.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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