Harold Hamm fires back at Russia: They said we'd never be a natural gas exporter. Look at us now

Hamm: We can reach energy independence

Pioneering shale driller Harold Hamm on Wednesday fired back at an executive of Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom after he cast doubt on the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.

"We should not forget that the United States are still a net importer of oil and gas. To change this situation quickly will not be possible in view of the increase of local consumption," Gazprom's deputy head Alexander Medvedev told Reuters on the sidelines of a gas conference in Vienna.

But Hamm was quick to point out that United States exports of natural gas have surpassed their imports in recent months.

"They said the same thing about natural gas, and here we are a net exporter of natural gas," the Continental Resources chairman and chief executive told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street"

"Certainly we've got more potential than anybody else with crude oil, and we can get there. It's going to be a measured approach," he added.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the nation could become a net exporter of energy as soon as 2026 as domestic production rebounds and demand at home remains flat. As a net exporter, the United States would still import energy products like natural gas and oil, but would send out more than it takes in.

Hamm has said he believes the pro-growth, fossil fuel-friendly policies of President Donald Trump can help make the United States energy independent by 2022.

Despite his comments on U.S. energy exports, Medvedev told Reuters he believes there is greater scope for U.S. and Russian cooperation in the energy sector.

Trump's pick for secretary of State, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, headed the U.S. oil giant's development of oil and gas fields in eastern Russia and ran the company as it prepared to develop Arctic Ocean assets with Russia's Rosneft. That project and others ended after the Obama administration sanctioned Russia for its annexation of Crimea and military interference in Ukraine.

Medvedev said he expects Westerners' view of Russia to improve after Trump's election and Britain's choice to leave the European Union.