NEW YORK (TheStreet) - The Energy Department issued a new forecast this week saying the U.S. could become "a net exporter of energy in 2019"-or four years from now.

A lot of media outlets ran with the story. But just how realistic is it?

As I outline in my upcoming book "Shale Boom, Shale Bust," this idea of "Saudi America" is a myth that will never come to fruition and is a worthless goal to pursue.

The idea of being completely energy self-reliant is seductive. Without a need for imports, we would not only be able to keep energy expenditures inside the U.S. economy, we could also be far less engaged in the politics of our energy suppliers in the Middle East.

We might even begin to re-attract the manufacturers who left the United States in the wake of soaring energy costs.

Oil from shale has been the biggest reason for inspiring the dream of "Saudi America" and American energy independence. Since 2009, oil production from shale has doubled and the Energy Information Agency (EIA) has recently predicted that US oil production will continue to increase until 2020 to peak at more than 10 million barrels a day.

All of that domestic oil will run into a real demand drop here in the US -- and promises that more and more of the energy we use will be home-grown.

So, what's the problem? Well, the problem comes down to price. Of the 3 largest oil producers in the world, the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia, U.S. production is still the most expensive by a very large margin.

Indeed, more than a third of all the oil produced in the world comes from OPEC members, with break-even prices in many cases still below $20 per barrel.

That is a far cry from the price that shale producers need to get to make their oil worth drilling for. In many cases, break-even prices for shale producers are over $70 a barrel.

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