US forecast to be world’s top oil producer by next year

US forecast to be world’s top oil producer by next year
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The United States will eclipse Russia to become the world’s top oil producer by 2019 at the latest, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast Tuesday.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said at a Japan event that the long-awaited milestone will come “definitely next year,” if not this year, Reuters reported.

“U.S. shale growth is very strong, the pace is very strong ... the United States will become the No. 1 oil producer sometime very soon,” he told the news service.

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The explosive growth is fueled by hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and other nontraditional drilling techniques.

Last year, the United States exceeded 10 million barrels per day of production for the first time since the 1970s. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects production to surpass 11 million barrels by the end of the year, which would overtake Russia.

The United States is still a net importer of crude oil, however. Last week, net imports fell to 4.98 million barrels per day, the lowest since the EIA started recording the figure in 2001.