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[ U.S. Monthly Crude Oil Production Hits 20-Year High ]

Crude oil production in the United States surpassed 7 million barrels per day (bpd) in November last year, the first time since December 1992 that output reached that level. According to numbers released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration today, the U.S. produced 7.013 million bpd in November and 7.030 million bpd in December.

Driven largely by increased production of “unconventional” or “tight” oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana, and Eagle Ford in Texas, U.S. crude oil production has been on a steady climb annually since 2008. (See related: “Photos: Bakken Shale Oil Boom Transforms North Dakota” and “Oil Train Revival: North Dakota Relies on Rail to Deliver Its Crude“) Overall output for 2012, at 6.474 million bpd, was the highest since 1995. (Annual U.S. production reached its peak in 1970: 9.63 million bpd.)

How long can this crude oil boom last? That is a matter of debate, as Great Energy Challenge blogger and Duke University scientist Bill Chameides notes, pointing out that some observers think the longevity of this boom has been overstated. Most recently, geoscientist J.David Hughes, writing in the journal Nature, questioned certain EIA projections on shale gas and oil output, concluding, “Declaring U.S. energy independence and laying plans to export the shale bounty is unwise.”

But at least in the short term, the boom is expected to continue. The EIA forecasts that crude oil production will continue its upward trend for the next two years, hitting more than 7.8 million bpd in 2014.

(See related post: “The Big Energy Question: How Has Fracking Changed Our Energy Future?“)

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