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The looming crisis in the Middle East should remind us of the importance of fracking

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The destructive strike on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities on Saturday, almost certainly carried out by or on behalf of Iran, brings the Middle East a step closer to general war. The long-anticipated test of President Trump’s crisis-management skills might be at hand.

It’s a scary thought. Here’s an even scarier one: Suppose the United States reached this moment without ever having taken advantage of the innovative oil and gas production technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which enabled drillers to free up previously inaccessible hydrocarbons from shale formations in North Dakota and Texas, among other places.

In December 2007, President George W. Bush declared “dependence on oil — especially oil from foreign lands” one of the most serious challenges facing the nation. Now, the United States has essentially no trade deficit in energy, according to J.P. Morgan Asset Management ; it exports growing quantities of oil and gas. This country, not Saudi Arabia, is the world’s largest producer of crude — daily production is now 12.1 million barrels a day, up from about half that much in 2012 — and the one best positioned to ramp up supply in response to sudden market swings.

Oil prices are likely to spike in the short-term aftermath of the attack on Saudi Arabia, but, as Clifford Krauss and Stanley Reed of the New York Times report , the availability of a secure U.S.........

© Washington Post