New data show ‘meteoric’ rise of Texas oil

HOUSTON – Oil production in Texas has hit its highest monthly rate on record, more than doubling in less than three years, according to new federal data.

The state pumped 2.7 million barrels of crude per day during September, the highest average since monthly record-keeping began in January 1981. That marked a 30 percent jump over September 2012, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Texas’ oil production peaked in 1972, when it produced an average of 3.4 million barrels per day, according to annual data from the Texas Railroad Commission.

After decades of decline, Texas oil production abruptly turned in 2008 with the beginning of the shale oil and gas boom. Innovation in oil field technology, particularly hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have opened new regions of the United States to oil and natural gas activity in recent years. Production from deep, dense rock formations, once uneconomical to drill, has unleashed a new wealth of oil and gas on the energy-hungry nation.

The Texas oil boom largely has been fueled by production in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale and West Texas’ Permian Basin, which have expanded rapidly to produce more than 1 million barrels of oil per day each. Texas produced 35 percent of the United States’ crude oil in September.

The surge has made Texas one of the 15 largest oil producers in the world, putting it in the ranks of heavy-hitters including Venezuela, Kuwait and Nigeria.

For 25 straight months, the state’s oil production rate has increased by more than 25 percent year-over-year, noted economist Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Management.

“Output in America’s No. 1 oil-producing state – Texas – continues its phenomenal, meteoric rise,” Perry wrote on his blog, Carpe Diem. “That production surge has to be one of the most significant increases in oil output ever recorded in the U.S. over such a short period of time.”

Perry said the oil boom in the Eagle Ford Shale and the Permian Basin have placed those regions among nine “super-giant oil fields” in the world.

The United States’ surging oil production, which reached 7.8 million barrels per day in September, has reignited talk of energy independence. The United States’ natural gas imports plummeted 21 percent from 2008 to 2012, while imports of crude oil and petroleum products fell 18 percent.

The Energy Information Administration forecasts that the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia and Russia this year to become the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas combined.

Americans still consume far more crude, however, than they produce. The country pumped an average of 6.5 million barrels of oil per day in 2012. Meanwhile, it used more than 18 million barrels of oil and petroleum products per day last year.

The Energy Information Administration projects total U.S. oil production will rise to 8.2 million barrels per day in 2014.


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