NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil production, rejuvenated by the advent of "fracking" shale formations, will approach historic highs by 2019, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday, raising its forecast to levels that would have been unforeseen just a few years ago.
The U.S. oil and gas industry has been a bright spot in recent years as the economy struggles to recover from a financial crisis and growth stagnation.
The energy renaissance has prompted some large U.S. oil companies to sell foreign assets and come home to focus on shale, leading to a upsurge of infrastructure projects. Cheap gas, meanwhile, has reinvigorated the refining and energy-heavy industrial sectors by lowering costs.
The EIA said production in the world's largest oil consumer will rise by 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) every year until 2016, when it will total 9.5 million bpd. By 2019 it will peak at 9.61 million bpd, nearly matching a 1970 record of 9.64 million bpd.
In 2019, domestic production of crude oil will account for 63 percent of total supplies, a significant increase from 2011 when it barely covered 38 percent of the country's needs.
The government agency's two-million-barrel-per-day upgrade from last year's report shows how production from tightly packed shale rock has consistently confounded analysts, as higher prices and rapidly evolving technology fuel growth.
The EIA increased its forecast for shale oil production and pushed back the year of its peak. It now sees production peaking in 2021, from 2020, at 4.8 million bpd, not 2.8 million bpd.
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