Many of today’s top economical, environmental, and political conversations are centered around oil. Industry officials spend a countless amount of hours analyzing supply, demand, and utilization. But why? Because oil is essential.

“The oil and gas industry has both a direct and indirect impact on the domestic economy, with oil and gas prices directly affecting the health of the economy as a whole,” says industry contributor Mark Overholt. When combined, oil and gas make up more than half of the world’s energy. Although there has been significant research into viable alternatives involving renewable and sustainable sources, no other option has come close to providing enough consistent energy to power the globe.

An increase in oil consumption is often an indicator of a strong economy. When we’re doing well, we tend to consume it in higher amounts. This is due to the enormous number of products that require oil and natural gas during their production process. Furnishings, automotive and industrial paints and lubricants, food preservatives, personal care items, and fertilizers all fall into this category.

We as a country not only require oil and gas to operate a majority of the machines present in our everyday life, but also to aid in securing and maintaining our position as a global authority. It is imperative that the U.S. produce enough oil and gas to prevent our dependence on foreign distributors. Beyond that, our ability to export crude oil and natural gas helps to combat the loss of our country’s other exports to inexpensive overhead and lower production costs overseas.

Petrochemicals and shale have propelled the United States into a desirable position within the oil industry. This particular energy source is currently growing faster than any other oil demand source. Securing a strong position as a primary exporter aids in battling the control of OPEC — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — over nonmembers such as ourselves. In fact, thanks to a particular industry subgroup known as light tight oil (LTO), the United States is poised to become a top global producer in liquids production by 2023.

Let’s recap. We depend on oil and gas to power our day-to-day lives. It is crucial to production, which in turn directly impacts our economy. Securing a spot as an industry exporter ensures that we limit our dependence on imports, thereby avoiding an economy that fluctuates solely at the mercy of outside governing bodies. As such, oil will and should remain a hot discussion topic in the foreseeable future.