The United States Just Became the World’s Top Oil Producer

For the first time since 1973, the United States is the global leader in crude oil production. This summer, the U.S. surpassed Russian crude oil production for the first time since February of 1999. This beats earlier predictions that the U.S. would surpass Russian and Saudi Arabian outputs sometime next year. These production levels can be directly attributed to fracking, ensuring that liberal tears are being produced in numbers exceeding levels that had not been predicted until after the midterm elections.

According to Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, “It’s a historic milestone and a reminder: never bet against the U.S. oil industry.”

This news came from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday, cautiously phrased as the United States had “likely passed” Russia this summer. The EIA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy and is tasked with collecting and analyzing energy information in order to promote sound policymaking and inform the public about energy as it relates to the economy and the environment.

The EIA does not publish crude oil forecasts for either Russia or Saudi Arabia, but they are currently predicting that the U.S. will continue to lead production for the rest of 2018 and throughout 2019. This is partially due to both countries’ relatively flat crude oil production growth over the last several years. Significant decreases are likely from other leading producers, such as Venezuela and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Globally, the oil production markets are breaking records as well. For the first time in history, August saw global oil production exceed 100 million barrels per day. As demand from developing countries continues to grow, production levels are not likely to decline anytime soon. Oil from fracking is the fastest growing source of this oil, hence the U.S.’s new role as the leading producer. However, as anyone can tell from when they go to fill up their personal vehicles, prices don’t seem to be going down. This week’s news is not likely to change that anytime soon, as production can barely keep up with demand. With barrels from Venezuela and Iran disappearing rapidly from the market, prices are likely to climb at an even steeper rate.

Up until the 1970s, the United States led global oil production until eventually the Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia surpassed the western world in the volume of oil produced. Until very recently, it seemed unlikely that the U.S. would ever be able to compete at scale with these two oil-producing giants.

The process called fracking is what has allowed the U.S. to surge ahead with crude production; fracking has been an extremely contentious practice for the last several years. The process, properly called hydraulic fracturing, allows the release of both oil and natural gas deep below the surface of the earth. As the process involves chemicals, opponents of fracking have said that it contaminates groundwater. Some have gone so far as to claim that fracking is causing earthquakes in places that usually do not experience them.

The U.S. Department of Energy also announced they were authorizing short-term natural gas exports.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Adam P

Adam is an Army Special Operations veteran, with over ten years of active duty service and multiple combat and training deployments to various locations throughout the world.

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