U.S. oil sector sets another record in another sign of energy independence

Sep 12, 2019

Marissa Luck | Houston Chronicle | August 21, 2019

The U.S. energy sector broke another record last year as the shale boom sent natural gas and petroleum production soaring.

U.S. petroleum and natural gas production jumped by 16 percent and by 12 percent respectively in 2018, setting new production records, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Department.

The U.S. surpassed Saudi Arabia last year to become the world's biggest petroleum producer, according to the Energy Department. Last year's increase in the United States was one of the largest absolute petroleum and natural gas production increases from a single country in history, the EIA said. It's another sign that the U.S. is quickly moving toward energy independenceor as Trump likes to call "energy dominance."

American oil producers pumped out nearly 11 million barrels a day of crude oil, a 17 percent jump from the year before and a new record for the U.S. In energy terms, the United States produced 28.7 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) of petroleum in 2018, which was composed of 80 percent crude oil and condensate and 20 percent natural gas plant liquids.

The Permian Basin in western Texas and Eastern New Mexico was responsible for the lion's share of growth in crude production.

The U.S. also produced 4.3 million barrels a day of natural gas plant liquids  in 2018. Natural gas plant liquid production has more than doubled in the past decade, the EIA said.

U.S. dry natural gas production increased by 12 percent in 2018 to 28.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), or 31.5 quadrillion British thermal units, reaching a new record high for the second year in a row. New export-oriented liquefied natural gas terminals on the Gulf Coast are propelling the growth in natural gas production.

Saudi Arabia's annual average crude oil production increased slightly in 2018, but it remained lower than in 2016, when Saudi Arabia's crude oil output reached a record high. In July, the Energy Department said Saudi Arabia's crude oil production approached a four-year low in May 2019, averaging an estimated 9.9 million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia's oil production dropped after OPEC countries agreed to cut oil production to lift falling crude prices in December 2018. The U.S. is importing less Saudi Arabian crude oil but China is increasing its oil imports from the Middle Eastern country.