The US went from a country that was heavily dependent on oil imports for its energy to one that will shortly, or has the potential to, become an oil exporter. This happened following a very focused energy development policy which opened up a whole range of new technologies and new resources, such as a previous report on the gasification of lignite in the US.

The ability to access hydrocarbon resources that were previously inaccessible was one of the technologies used to alter the US energy balance. Previously untapped resources were made accessible by technologies such as fracking and when the Irish Tillage and Land Use Society (ITLUS) visited North Dakota last June, we went up to the Bakken oil reserve in the northwest of the state to witness what the new-found oil wealth had done in just one region, Dunn County.