A dramatic expansion of U.S. production could push global spare capacity to exceed 8 million barrels per day, at which point OPEC could lose price control and crude oil prices would drop, possibly sharply,” the U.S. intelligence community’s internal think tank, the National Intelligence Council, said in its “Global Trends 2030” report in December. “Such a drop would take a heavy toll on many energy producers who are increasingly dependent on relatively high energy prices to balance their budgets.”
With some analysts predicting that oil prices could drop as low as $70 to $90 a barrel – down from the current price of nearly $110 per barrel of Brent crude oil – a “scramble” among OPEC members for market share could ensue, said Edward Morse, an energy analyst with Citigroup and co-author of a recent report on titled “Energy 2020: Independence Day.”
OPEC professes to be not unduly alarmed by the U.S. oil and natural gas boom. It highlights the “considerable uncertainties” surrounding wells drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and associated technologies.
Longer term, say by 2020, cheaper heavy oil from Canada, freed from the so-called oil sands by new recovery technologies, could push similar oil from Venezuela out of the U.S. Gulf Coast market, according to forecasts.
Mexico also is expected to increase production, offering the U.S. access to another convenient and friendly provider.
“The Eagle Ford formation in Texas extends into Mexico and if you look at the Gulf, you’ll see thousands of black dots marking oil platforms on the U.S. side but nothing on the Mexican side,” said Yergin. “That’s changing. There is a political consensus among the three major parties on energy. You will see less immigration from Mexico. Mexico could become more of a BRIC (the term used for fast-developing economies like Brazil, Russia, India and China) than Brazil.”