This is very, very roughly like an energy-return-on-energy-invested (EROEI) for US oil and gas - a familiar concept in energy analysis. It isn't that for several reasons:
- We are measuring both inputs and outputs in dollars, not joules. Since the figures mix oil and gas which have had substantial variations in their price ratios, it's not straightforward to turn the dollar ratios into energy ratios.
- We are comparing the inputs and outputs for a single year - not comparing all the outputs for projects with all the inputs required for that particular project integrated over time.
This is also a narrow boundaries analysis - we are looking just at energy used directly in operations by the oil and gas industry, not at embodied energy used in their materials or by their suppliers.
All that said, it's hard to believe that if the EROEI of the US oil and gas industry were plummeting (due, say, to the excessive investment required to frack oil and gas out of tight resource plays) that this ratio would be rising. But rising it appears to be: if the numbers are to be believed, over the last decade or so, the industry is producing more dollars of energy output per dollar of energy input.