EIA: United States World’s Top Hydrocarbon Producer For Sixth Straight Year

The United States was the top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons for the sixth consecutive year in 2017, according to a report released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

And not only did U.S. petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production outpace Russia and Saudi Arabia again in 2017 — it did so in record fashion, averaging just under 30 million barrels per day of oil equivalent. These production totals include crude oil, dry natural gas and various other liquid hydrocarbons, as the EIA explains:

“Total petroleum production is made up of several different types of liquid fuels, including crude oil and lease condensate, tight oil, extra-heavy oil, and bitumen. In addition, various processes produce natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), biofuels, and other liquid fuels, some as a result of refinery processing gain.”

EIA reports that total U.S. petroleum and natural gas production has increased roughly 60 percent since 2008, which — not coincidentally — is about the time the ongoing shale revolution took off. Thanks to advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, the U.S. has emerged as the “undisputed leader” in oil and gas production, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Fatih Birol. This status comes just 10 years after it was widely assumed the U.S. production was in irreversible decline.

According to EIA, U.S. petroleum production increased 745,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, due largely to the fact that crude oil prices increased 21 percent to an average of $65 per barrel following a two-year OPEC-induced price slump.

U.S. natural gas production increased steadily as the year went along, averaging 5.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) more in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter last year, helping the U.S. outpace surging Russian production.

Not only has the United States established itself as the top petroleum producer in the world over the past six years, it isn’t likely to relinquish that status any time soon.

The report notes that EIA’s May Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts U.S. petroleum and liquid fuels production will increase just under 13 percent to 17.6 million b/d in 2018 and 22 percent to 19.1 million b/d in 2019, driven by record-shattering crude oil and natural gas production.

In fact, the United States is expected to surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s top crude oil producer either this year or next. The IEA expects “unprecedented” U.S. crude oil production growth to account for 60 percent of global production growth over next five years. This incredible ascension also has the U.S. poised to become the world’s top exporter of crude and oil products in 2019, and a net crude oil exporter by the late 2020s.

The EIA and IEA also expect record-breaking U.S. natural gas production in 2018 and 2019. The U.S. was a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 60 years in 2017 and is on pace to become the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter by the mid 2020s, according to the IEA.

The evidence of the positive impacts of America’s surging oil and natural gas production since 2008 is staggering. The U.S. has enjoyed nine consecutive years of economic growth while simultaneously reducing carbon dioxide emissions 11.5 percent, thanks largely to increased natural gas use. The United States’ energy security risk has also declined five straight years and is at its fourth lowest level ever.

Simply stated: None of this would be happening if not for the shale revolution.

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