Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fracking makes U.S. top oil producer; last was in 1973

Because of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the United States may be the world's biggest oil producer for the first time since 1973. The U.S. likely passed Saudi Arabia in February and Russia in June, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S produced an estimated average of 10.9 million barrels a day in August, more than Russia's 10.8 million or Saudi Arabia's 10.4 million. The agency expects the U.S. to keep out-producing those countries through 2019, David Koenig reports for The Associated Press.

The U.S. was once the world's top oil producer until Russia and then Saudi Arabia gained the top spot in the 1970s. "The energy information administration and the International Energy Agency, a global group of oil-consuming nations, had predicted that the U.S. would eventually pass Russia and Saudi Arabia but possibly not until 2019," Koenig reports.

It once seemed unlikely that the U.S. would regain the top spot, but fracking wells in the Permian Basin under Texas and New Mexico, as well as in North Dakota and the Gulf of Mexico, have fueled an American oil boom since 2011. Meanwhile, "Production has been relatively steady in Russia and Saudi Arabia, both of which took part in an OPEC agreement to limit output beginning in 2016 to drive up prices," Koenig reports. The IEA also "expects the U.S. will continue to top Russia and Saudi Arabia for the rest of this year and through 2019."

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