Industry survey finds doubts about idea of U.S. oil self-sufficiency

More than half of the oil and gas professionals who responded to a new survey say the United States will never be completely self-sufficient in terms of oil production.

The Deloitte LLP survey released Tuesday offers a less rosy outlook for U.S. oil production in the future than a report by the International Energy Agency issued just the day before.

The IEA says that the U.S. is projected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2020 while cutting its own energy use faster than any other nation.

The U.S. currently relies on imports for 20 percent of its energy needs, but the IEA report said increased production and higher vehicle-fuel standards will help make the country “all but self-sufficient” by 2035.

But the Deloitte survey conducted in late October among 250 oil and gas professionals found a different picture.

It concluded that America can count on plentiful domestic natural gas, but it should expect a continued reliance on foreign oil.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said the U.S. will never be completely oil self-sufficient – and only 26 percent said oil self-sufficiency is achievable in the next 10 years.

Regulation is something the industry considers a major potential future roadblock to energy self-sufficiency.

“I have to believe that regulators will set the bar high, but we have to do it right,” Deloitte senior advisor Peter Robertson told reporters during a briefing at the firm’s oil and gas conference in Houston.