About the impending arrival of U.S. energy independence: We return to the twist in our energy and geopolitical circumstances that we are hearing about -- that, contrary to the drumbeat regarding peak oil to which we have become accustomed, there is no problem on the global energy patch. There is abundant oil, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Financial Times; not only that, it is located in the nearby, secure Western Hemisphere (pictured above, happy days in Brazil), and not in the violent-and-volatile Middle East; moreover, the United States may be on the verge of achieving what had seemed to be merely fabled -- "energy independence." We expressed our doubts about these findings when they emerged a few days ago. And though this is not a peak-oil blog, suffice it to say that our brow has not become less furrowed. One reason is the mathematics behind the theoretical revision. Let's start with the suggestion that the gravitational center of oil is shifting from the Middle East to the Western Hemisphere, as we read in the Times, the Post, and last month here at Foreign Policy. In order for that to happen, Western Hemispheric oil production should comfortably surpass the Middle East's 25 million barrels of oil a day. When you add up the numbers, North and South American producers currently pump some 21 million barrels a day. The bright-picture scenario suggests another 7-9 million barrels a day (additional supplies of 3 million barrels a day from Brazil, 1.5-4.5 million barrels a day from Canadian oil sands, and 2.5 million barrels a day from U.S. onshore oil shale). Shaving off a bit for depletion of current fields, and you get roughly the same production for the concentrated Middle East as for the far-flung Western Hemisphere, with no single country bearing the singular heft of a Saudi Arabia. It is a tidy volume, but not quite the forecasted tectonic shakeup.
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Steve LeVine is the author of The Oil and the Glory and a longtime foreign correspondent.