Since the economically crippling oil embargo of 1973, every American president has pledged to seek and achieve energy independence.
That elusive goal may finally have arrived, at least for the foreseeable future, with the failure of Saudi Arabia and its 11 oil cartel partners in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to agree to a production cut that would put a brake on plummeting crude prices.
On Friday, the benchmark American price for crude oil continued the free fall that began on Thursday, closing at $66.15, its lowest price in more than four years.
The inability or unwillingness of OPEC to act showed that the cartel was no longer the dominating producer whose decisions determine global supplies and prices. Suddenly, the United States — which is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer, possibly in a matter of months — is in that position, although the resiliency of that new command must still be tested.
This is a historic turning point,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian. “The defining force now in world oil today is the growth of U.S. production. The outcome of the OPEC meeting is a clear indication that the oil exporters now recognize that this is a new market.”