Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 7:56 a.m. EDT on Real Money on Sept. 10. To see Jim Cramer's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.
NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- When will people truly realize how important the domestic oil and gas finds in the U.S. really are? When will there be an understanding that the Eagle Ford, the Niobrara, the Permian and the Bakken shales may have enough oil to make a real dent on imports and change the way we think about which U.S. companies truly have the potential to be major independent companies? When will people recognize the U.S. is a lot closer to energy independence than we think?
It drives me crazy how little-noticed the changes really are. Take Monday. Did you know that the California Energy Commission released numbers showing that 743,000 barrels of oil were shipped by rail last quarter to California refineries? That's up from 215,000 barrels last year at this time. I almost fell of my chair when I read a newswire report about it. Most of it came from North Dakota and Colorado. Although the latter's always been a solid producer of oil, the big increase comes from Noble Energy (NBL). The company has said it will triple oil production in the next five years from shale in the Niobrara field, which is just about Denver. Overall, Colorado produced 49.3 million barrels of oil last year, a 26% jump from the year before. That's monumental.
It's nothing, though, compared with the Bakken field flowing out of North Dakota, which sent 317,000 barrels by rail to California in the first quarter. California's not even the biggest destination for oil from that monster play, which will produce almost a 900,000 barrels a day this year -- up from slightly less than 400,000 two years ago. Independents Whiting Petroleum (WLL) and Continental Resources (CLR) lead the Bakken: Each produced about 65,000 barrels a day in 2012, and I bet those numbers will go up substantially this year.The once-moribund Permian Basin produced 600,000 barrels a day in 2012, up about 10% more than the year before and up 25% from seven years ago. Given that drilling permits have doubled since 2005, I expect much more coming from that once-given-up-for-growth field. Occidental (OXY) is the biggest producer in the Permian, followed by Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD), Apache (APA) and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) following it -- although the last three generate about half of what Occidental produces every day.
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