The oil import BOP deficit is nowhere near solution ...It can be corrected quickly by halving airline capacity , sharply increasing the minimum allowable fare ,and taxing motor fuel $5.-/ gallon .. This would ground the frivolous joyriding in airplanes and cars by millions of bozos,. restore solid profit and quality to the airline environment , reduce highway congestion.and air pollution ..The current crowding and chaos of this debased consumers' anarchy would thusly be replaced by vastly improved conditions for the serious traveler!
This is the story of the decade and the next 20 years and we have a president so in the pocket of green that he cannot even make claim to any share of gloating for it. If anything Obama's EPA and Dept of Interior have prevented new land leases for exploration and almost all of this new oil/gas is from private land.
Meanwhile. oil men GWB and Cheney drove US oil production down to the lowest it has been since 1948 !
Actually Obama has opened up the last of four Naval Petroleum Reserves set aside for the US Navy in the 1920s and he also opened up vast areas of offshore leases just before BP proved that these could not be drilled safely. After some delay caused by BP's criminal negligence (yes they are felons in their corporate capacity - along with Mafia controlled hazardous waste disposal firms), those leases are going out for bid.
More to encourage domestic drilling than GWB & Cheney did. They just looked for oil in Iraq.
Crude oil production is "only" up about 1.1 million b/day and that is tapering off. You are using hurricane suppressed oil production #s from this time last year to "juice" your comparison. And this is the low demand season, so the current crude oil imports = domestic production (absent oil product exports, this would mean we import half our crude oil) will not hold in higher demand seasons. But it is important to note none-the-less.
As for being "the single most important USA economic story of the year", it should make the bottom half of the Top 10. *MUCH* more important was our earlier drop in oil demand by 3 million b/day.
Per EIA, US oil consumption was up +0.4% in the first half - a trend going the wrong way.
I am curious what you are going to say when US crude oil production drops in 2015 or so. The depletion rate from fraced wells (and to a lesser extent, deep water wells) is so extreme that production rates cannot be sustained without ever rising oil prices.
There are 180 drilling rigs active in North Dakota today, 194 this time last year and 199 this date in 2011. All time peak of 220 drilling rigs in May 2012. This implies that economic places to drill the Bakken are shrinking even as well head oil prices rise there. Google active north dakota drilling rigs if you like.
With half of the new wells down by -50% in 20 months, new wells are constantly needed to replace wells of a couple of years ago.