* Output of light, tight oil to surge in next decade-IEA
* IEA slightly raises long-term oil demand forecast, price
* India, not China, to lead global demand growth after 2020
(Changes "by 2016" to "in 2015" in para 1 after IEA news
conference, adds details))
By Alex Lawler, Ron Bousso and Peg Mackey
LONDON, Nov 12 The United States will stride
past Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's top oil
producer in 2015, the West's energy agency said, bringing
Washington closer to energy self-sufficiency and reducing the
need for OPEC supply.
But by 2020, the oilfields of Texas and North Dakota will be
past their prime and the Middle East will regain its dominance -
especially as a supplier to Asia, the International Energy
Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.
A boom in shale oil in the United States has reversed a
decline in its oil output and the IEA, adviser to industrialised
nations, predicted in its 2012 World Energy Outlook the U.S.
would surpass Riyadh as top producer in 2017.
Introducing this year's outlook at a news conference in
London on Tuesday, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said the
agency now expects the re-ordering earlier.
"We expect in 2015 the U.S. to be the largest oil producer
in the world," he said.
"We see two chapters in the oil markets," he told Reuters in
an interview. "Up to 2020, we expect the light, tight oil to
increase - I would call it a surge. And due to the increase
coming from Brazil, the need for Middle East oil in the next few
years will definitely be less."
"But due to the limited resource base (of U.S. tight oil),
it is going to plateau and decline. After 2020 there will be a
major dominance of Middle East oil."
Oil prices would continue to rise, the IEA said, and spur
development of unconventional resources such as the light, tight
oil that has fueled the U.S. oil boom, oil sands in Canada,
deepwater production in Brazil and natural gas liquids.
The average crude import price of IEA members will climb
steadily to $128 a barrel in 2012 terms by 2035 - up $3 from
2012's outlook. The nominal price by 2035 will be $216, similar
to last year's assumption.
Other nations are unlikely to match the success of the
United States in tapping shale, the IEA said.
While tight oil output is set to soar in the next few years,
the Paris-based agency said the world was not "on the cusp of a
new era of oil abundance" and repeated that investment in new
supply needed to be kept up to avert any future supply crunch.
By the mid-2020s, non-OPEC production will fall back and
countries in the Middle East - home to core members of the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries - will provide
most of the increase in global supply.
Birol said it was essential that investments continue to be
made in the plentiful, low-cost resources of the Middle East in
order to meet growing demand from Asia.
"The Middle East is and will remain the heart of the global
oil industry for many years to come," he told Reuters.
"Giving the wrong signal to Middle East producers may well
delay investment. If we want Middle East oil in 2020, the
investments need to be made by now."
Rising U.S. tight oil production is for now helping to meet
growing demand, which the IEA forecasts will reach 101 million
barrels per day (bpd) in 2035, up from 86.7 million bpd in 2011
and up slightly from 99.7 million bpd expected last year.
"Shale oil is very good news for the United States and for
the world. But the demand is in Asia," Birol said.
"First China, and then after 2020 driven by India. Therefore
we need Middle East oil for the Asian demand growth."
China is due to overtake the United States as the largest
oil-consuming country and Middle East oil consumption is
expected to surpass that of the European Union, both around
2030, the IEA said.
India is forecast to become the largest single source of
global oil demand growth after 2020.
The share of the United States in global energy-intensive
industries - chemicals, aluminium, cement, iron, steel, paper,
glass and oil refining - will increase slightly thanks to
cheaper energy. By contrast, the EU and Japan will lose one
third of their current share.
The IEA also said that up to 10 million bpd of global oil
refining capacity was at risk as global refining centres were
relocating closer to Asia.
(Editing by Dale Hudson, Ron Askew)