In recent months, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has evolved and developed in ways that haven’t been seen in almost a century. These unprecedented developments have surprised many industry experts, pleased many workers, and signaled a major milestone and turning point for a professional sphere that was widely believed to be in a state of perpetual downturn, relative to commercial prospects and output potential.


To better understand the nature of this boost, consider the supporting statistics and numbers.


Between the Great Depression and 2016, the United States imported far more fossil fuels than it exported. Oil and natural gas were typically purchased from Russia and Middle Eastern states.


However, the U.S.’s increased production worked to reverse this long-building trend, which, it’s worth noting, most analysts believed would remain in-place forever. Between 30 November and 5 December 2017, the change became official; the U.S. exported far more—over 200,000 more—barrels of petroleum products than it imported.


Furthermore, this flip-flop in the U.S.’s fuel-exportation status doesn’t seem as though it’ll reverse anytime soon, according to pundits. In 2017, America’s collection of oil and natural gas grew to its largest size in history. A number of factors have contributed to this record, the most important and noteworthy of which is the newfound ability to extract crude oil from shale.


The optimization and development of the technology required to remove oil from shale has been, objectively stated, a complete and total game changer. With this technology, the U.S. has officially become home to the largest shale oil reserves in the world. Experts estimate that American shale can produce between four and six trillion barrels of crude oil, when excavated.


Lastly, it must be emphasized that these and other estimates, which have been created by industry analysts, government workers, and other professionals, are conservative. Technological innovations have made shale oil excavation possible, and in turn, these technological innovations have redefined the fuel industry. It’s impossible to say how additional innovations will aid fuel production, but it can safely be stated that more crude oil and petroleum products will be created as a result of improvements to procedure, method, and capabilities.


For those in the industry and those who use fuel—which is just about everyone—it’ll be interesting to see what trends the next decade brings with it.