Ever since the 1973 Arab oil embargo that shocked America, the oil side of the “oil & gas” industry has dominated media coverage and energy policy anxieties—not natural gas. That’s understandable, considering the context of those times.
In the two decades leading up to 1973, America had seen oil imports increase eight-fold. And, at that time, transportation was the biggest energy-consuming sector of the economy, using 10 percent more energy than electricity generation, which was the second biggest energy-consuming sector.
But times change. Today, it is the electric sector that is the biggest energy-consumer, using 50 percent more energy than transportation, which is now in second place. The same electrification transformation is underway globally. Meanwhile, not only are U.S. oil imports collapsing, but America today produces 50 percent more natural gas than petroleum (in energy-equivalent terms) and is a major exporter of natural gas—the latter a complete surprise to nearly every forecaster.
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering. In 2016, he was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society. Follow him on Twitter here.
Photo by mellypage / iStock