LONDON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A leading energy research agency said the United States is headed toward energy self sufficiency and would soon become the world's largest oil producer.
The surprising 2012 World Energy Outlook produced by the International Energy Agency said the United States would surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2017. It also said the country would break even on oil and natural gas imports and exports by 2035.
"North American is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency," the agency's Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.
That means the shifts in oil flow around the world will rely on conservation as much as improved production, the agency said.
The report that was released in London said improvements in energy efficiency will allow savings the equivalent of one fifth of 2010 global demand by 2035.
"In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits," van der Hoeven said.
The predictions include the United States becoming a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and "almost self-sufficient in energy in net terms by 2035."
The shifting oil flow -- the direction in which petroleum products move from country to country -- is headed in new directions. As the United States builds up its internal production of energy, 90 percent of the oil from the Middle East will be sent toward Asia, the report said.
Global demand will is expected to increase by more than one-third by 2035 with China, India and the Middle East accounting for 60 percent of the increased demand.