Earlier this week, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) prompted more debate around energy independence with the release of its monthly Short-Term Outlook (STEO) report.

The report forecasts that this year, US crude oil production will grow by 900,000 barrels per day (bpd), which would be one of the largest increases in production on record. The reason for this increase has been attributed in part to improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, which have enabled the US to tap into previously unconventional oil resources.

So, what makes this report any more significant than other ones?

Firstly, the findings of the report underscore how the US energy market has changed over the past few years with the adoption of new technologies, and specifically, the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing – or ‘fracking’ – for the extraction of shale gas. As we start a new year, it will be interesting to see how the contentious relationship between those who are opposed to fracking and those who see it as a way for the US to gain a measure of energy security will play out.

Secondly, it’s not clear how this projected increase in oil production will impact on suppliers in the global energy industry. For example, an increase in oil production could well have some significant effect on investment in alternative energy sources.

The one certainty however, is that this year will see a considerable uptick in PR activity as the various stakeholders in the energy battleground look to communicate their own viewpoints and analysis to sway the energy outcome for 2013 in their favor.

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