Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, the US production of crude oil is on track for the biggest single-year gain for more than 60 years.

Analysts claimed yesterday that, if the growth in domestic drilling continues, America will soon overtake Russia and Saudi Arabia – and possibly become ‘the new Middle East’ in another decade. The boom has surprised even the experts.

Production is expected to rise by 7 per cent to hit an average of 10.9million barrels a day this year. Energy Department officials say it will average 11.4million next year, just below the current Saudi output of 11.6million.

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