If you want to know how to invest in the most lucrative area of energy, just focus on U.S. shale oil production.
In fact, we just uncovered the next wave of "millionaire-maker" shale oil plays.
It's hard to believe that an advancement as profitable as this one was practically non-existent merely 10 years ago.
Fast forward to last year, when domestic oil production marked the largest single-year increase on record, thanks in large part to increased U.S. shale oil production, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy. Oil production, including U.S. shale oil, grew by about one million barrels a day last year to about 8.9 million barrels per day, reported BP.
That's up 13.9% from 2011.
And, in turn, the increased U.S. shale oil production caused U.S. crude oil imports to drop to the lowest level since 1997, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Crude imports in 2012 were about 8.5 million barrels of oil a day, down from a peak in 2005 of 10.1 million barrels per day - again thanks to rapidly growing U.S. shale oil production.
U.S. Shale Oil Boom is Far From Over
While the impact of U.S. shale oil production has already been significant, it's about to get more prolific - and profitable - for two reasons.
First, the EIA estimates that the U.S. has an abundance of recoverable underground shale oil - at least 58 billion barrels.
Second, the U.S. has a technological advantage over other nations with shale drilling industries. Roughly 95% of drilling rigs in the U.S. are capable of the horizontal drilling needed to extract shale oil, which is a percentage unmatched by drilling rig fleets in any other country.
This is a key point for investors because oil is more difficult than gas to extract from shale rock formations.
That makes unconventional oil is much more expensive to produce than conventional oil, according to Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors. In fact, shale oil can be about 20 times more expensive to extract.