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America's oil - a love affair

In September 2000, the world was hit by an "oil crisis"; the cost of crude oil reached over 35 dollars a barrel, and gasoline (which the British call "petrol") became very expensive. Even in America. Since then, the cost of oil has fallen; but even in the USA, use of oil has continued to fall .
American oil industryThey don't make cars like this any more. They used too much gasolene
    During the summer of 2000, lots of car-drivers in America were angry. The cost of gasoline went above $2 a gallon in some states. The age of cheap gasoline was over.
    Today, in 2020,  in spite of Covid-19, gas costs over $ 2 a gallon  almost everywhere in the USA. In California, even regular gas costs above $3 a gallon.
    This is very cheap compared to Europe,* * but Americans think that it is very expensive.

    The United States is the land of relatively cheap energy; America is the second biggest producer of oil in the world, but it is also the biggest importer. In fact, the USA imports over 20% of its energy, mostly in the form of oil.
    There is oil under the ground in many parts of the USA. America's first oil wells were drilled in the year 1859, in Pennsylvania; and since then, more and more wells have been made in other states.
    Today, oil companies are "fracking", and finding lots more oil under the ground.

American oil industryWorking in the American oil industry
    The centre of America's oil industry today is the state of Texas; and America's "oil capital" is the city of Dallas. Texas is by far the biggest producer of oil in the USA.
    It was not always the case; the first Texan oil-wells were opened in 1901, when there was already a big oil industry in other parts of the USA. But without the oil from Texas, America's history would have been very different.
    In 2001, Texans celebrated their "oil centenary".

    Cheap oil and cheap gasoline helped to make modern America. They shaped America's cities, and they were an essential part of the American lifestyle. They were also essential in the great empty states of the West, where people often have to travel long distances.
    Today, Americans consume about 25% of the world's energy.... far more than people in other countries; but the situation is slowly changing.
    Americans are already buying smaller cars, and American cars consume much less gas than they used to. But in the coming years, they will use less and less oil. They will have to.
    There is still a lot of oil under the ground, but oil and gas must become more expensive in the future. Over 50% of America's traditional oil reserves have already been used - mostly since 1950. Nobody knows when America's oil will start running out, but the first problems could come in less than 20 years. And as soon as oil starts running out, its price will go up very quickly!
    In conclusion, the "two dollar gallon" was good for America. It has encouraged Americans to buy smaller cars, and to use less energy. That way, America's oil will last longer..... perhaps until the age of clean green energy arrives.

** Comparing gasoline prices:

$3.80 per gallon =  about $1.00 per litre,  or about 0.85 €uros a litre... which is much cheaper than in Europe.
(Converted at August 2020 rates)

Word guide
situation - centenary: 100th anniversary - consume: use - crude oil: oil that comes out of the ground - drill: make a hole - fracking: a controversial new technology to extract oil from rocks - gasolene (USA) = petrol (GB) - a gallon (US) : 3.78 litres - oil well: crude oil comes out of the ground through oil wells - run out: come to an end. - throughout the USA - in all the USA Printing: Optimized for A4 printing with the Firefox or Chrome browsers
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Student worksheet

America's oil

Exercise - comparisons 

Here is some information which comes from the article: unfortunately the sentences have been put together
wrongly: each sentence contains two parts, (a) and (b). Join the parts correctly..:

List a) List b)
Petrol is much cheaper in the USA  than in Pennsylvania
Petrol is more expensive today than it is in Europe.
Americans consume more energy than people in Europe.
Americans cars consume less petrol than it is today
More oil is produced in Texas than it was in the past.
Oil will be more expensive in the future than they used to


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Updated from an article originally published in Horizon magazine.
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Linguapress intermediate English reading

Level - Simple intermediate.
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:
68  Plain English Grade level: 7

IELTS Level :  4-5

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