Is President Barack Obama responsible for U.S. oil production rise?


President Barack Obama has gotten an earful from Republicans and energy industry officials for claiming his administration has helped to spur a rise in oil and natural gas production.

So who’s right?

Robert Rapier at the broke down oil production under the presidential tenures of George Bush and Obama. Here is what he came up with:

For industry folks, it isn’t exactly what you imagine, but Rapier says the graph doesn’t paint the clearest picture of who is responsible for driving production of oil and natural gas.

(Photo: Robert Rapier,

“The reason that oil production has risen under President Obama is due to events that happened years earlier. In this case, it wasn’t some grand initiative that President Bush passed, rather it was years of steadily increasing oil prices that caused oil companies to approve a number of new projects that had marginal economics at lower oil prices. But these projects take some years to build, and as in the case of the Alaska Pipeline, decisions that were made (four to six) years earlier benefited President Obama with increased domestic oil production.”

Rapier dives into a similar situation between former presidents Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.

Categories: Crude oil

52 Responses

  1. fliprich says:

    Let’s see who the gulf coast votes for in Nov.

  2. Lunchtime O'Booze says:

    Fact is that even in this great energy state of ours the average person has no clue just how long reserves found turn into reserves being produced. The POTUS similarly does not understand this.

    Look at Shell’s Perdido field in the GoM: this was found ten years ago and has only just come into production. Now did Obama effect [Shell’s] exploration policy back then or the engineering decisions to develop the same in the interim? No of course not. And onshore in the Bakken Formation in the Dakota’s: was that Obama’s policies that suddenly made the technical realisation that this was an economic resource? No. Neither was it the result of Bush policy. It is, however, the result of private investment and research.

    The general public and White House believes you drill a well make a find (always) hook up a hose to the well and bingo you suck all the oil out. Easy money.

    Similarly POTUS failed to realise stopping all drilling in the GoM would mean no new water injection wells and, long term, reduced production and recovery rates in deepwater fields already in production. That most certainly will be the result of Obama policy.

  3. Katy says:

    No, Obama is not responsible in any way, shape or form for the rise in production. However, he will be directly responsible for the decrease in production several years down the road because of his moratorium on drilling in the gulf.

  4. BWS says:

    If you look closely at the graphic, the rise clearly started BEFORE our current President’s term of office. But even so, the increase in production is not such a great thing. We still need to focus on conservation and new energy sources, not increased level of fossil fuel burning with it’s associated pollution and GHG increase.
    Most of these numbers have far less to do with the sitting administration as it does with outside issues such as overall economy.

  5. wisemen says:

    There is no one blinder then he who just won’t see.

  6. wisemen says:

    Remember this the President fought the oil companies when they had the oil spill, and the Republicans defended the oil companies.

  7. wisemen says:

    We are still having G W Bush after shocks..because we still have republicans.

  8. wisemen says:

    when Obama took office Gas prices Was starting to come down to 2.00 a Gallon. And AS SOON AS The Republicans took the house seats back gas prices shot to the ceiling. Republican are to blame for high prices.

  9. wisemen says:

    when Obama took office Gas price Was starting to come down to 2.00a Gallon.

  10. El Foley says:

    To those in this thread who blamed the CRA. the Community Reinvestment Act had absolutely nothing to do with the housing crises. There are studies and papers on this subject that you should read so we can at least get this one lie out of the way. Not to mention that you are blaming those with the least power in this society for the economic collapse.
    Fannie and Freddie did participate and contribute to the orgy that brought on the real estate collapse but they were late to the party and smaller players than Wall Street and the unregulated mortgage origination industry. This falsehood that some use as an accepted fact is known as a zombie lie. Study after study after investigation has laid it all out yet the zombie lie will not die.

  11. Trail_Tramp says:

    @ olddispatcher As far as “3rd party strikes”, you’ve got it totally backwards. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks and has been identified numerous times by intelligence sources as being a target for Al Qaeda. Thanks for bringing up the point that the Keystone would be a good back up in case the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is taken out. And yes, they are just alike in that they would provide a source of oil not dependent upon the Middle East or Venezuela.

  12. johnny says:

    Obama 2012 love it or leave Rednecks

  13. olddispatcher says:

    In reality Bush only was acting President for one month. That month was the last one he was in office.

    Prior to that everything that took place was, according to any right wing talker and even Bush himself, Clinton’s fault. I was beginning to wonder if Bush was ever going to take over the job right up to the end. I was so glad to hear him say, during the last month of his term, ‘I was responsible for that’.

    After Clinton being President for almost 16 years I was glad to see the Republicans claiming that from day one all of our troubles were due to Obama. ‘Don’t look backwards’ was the cry and lots of people took them up on it.

    After all, if you looked backwards you might see Bush and how he ran things. And who wants to relive those days?

  14. Mark from Louisiana says:

    In his state of the union address obama said we need to use all the natural gas we have in our country. He wants tax breaks for companies that convert their 18 wheeler trucks to run on natural gas. Who would profit from that?

    As part of the White House’s proposal, it would offer incentives for companies to buy and use trucks powered by natural gas.

    “One company that stands to benefit handsomely from the president’s proposal is Westport Innovations,” Markay reports. “The company converts diesel engines to be fueled by natural gas. Wall Street analysts predicted a boom for the company if the NAT GAS Act were passed.

    So if Westport does well who does that help out the most? Gosh what a surprise!

    Guess what? George Soros’ hedge fund holds 3,160,063 shares in Westport Innovation Inc. (as of its last SEC filing).

    If Westport reaps the predicted windfall, George Soros will be one of the chief beneficiaries. That is to say, he stands to make a boatload of money is the president is successful in his push for natural gas.

    Perhaps Soros’ potential benefit from the president’s push for natural gas is purely coincidental.

    On the other hand, perhaps the fact that Soros has given $384,090 to the Democratic Party, Democratic PACs, and Democratic Candidates in the three election cycles beginning in 2008, including $4,400 to Obama himself, makes this much more than coincidence.

  15. olddispatcher says:

    Yeah! Besides coming up with new tax credits for business to hire Veterans, saving the auto industry and the 1,400,000 jobs that go with it, seeing 3,600,000 jobs created over the last three years, passing laws that ensure women will receive equal pay for equal work and starting the process to close the Medicare ‘donut hole’ that guy Obama has done nothing!

    Why, all of those things are just like the increase in oil production. They would have taken place all by themselves.

    How dare Obama take any of the credit!

  16. olddispatcher says:

    Earlier someone made the comment that the Alaska pipeline was just like the Keystone XL. Well, I guess that is true in a way. Both are made from steel pipe and both carry oil.

    But the XL will not be insulated, elevated and equipped with heat sinks to keep the oil inside from melting the ground around it. It will also run through an area where it will be at risk of third party strikes, something the Alaska pipeline is not too worried about.

    Considering all of that and the thousands of other differences between the two lines…. Yup, they are just alike.

  17. TXSFRED says:

    Is it good? Let’s define good. Osama bin Ladin being dead is good and I give President Obama the credit for not stopping it. ( President Clinton had a shot at him twice if not three times and didn’t take them. ) It is good to use drones to knock off lsiamists rather than combat units. Other than those two instances of his presidency, if it is good for this nation, President Obama is not responsible. Talk talk talk is all he actually does which is puttng up smoke around what he actually does. When he reaches to shake hands, you better look at what’s in the other hand.

  18. olddispatcher says:

    Gasoline prices have gone up 67% since Obama took office? Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

    Another way is to say that from the high prices we were paying during the last years of the Bush tenure prices have fallen 66% since Obama took office.

    And Bush, along with Rush and a host of other Republican enablers, claimed that the President has NO power to control gas prices; it is all supply and demand. Rush Limbaugh was very adamant on this point.

    So something has changed that gives Obama some sort of weird power to control gas prices that Bush did not have?

  19. CaptSternn says:

    No, it’s all Bush’s fault. At least that’s what Obama always says.

  20. If you want to get real with this, then yes, He IS responsible for uptick in energy production. He is because His administration prevented a great depression that the previous “stewards of good government” almost allowed to happen. Corporate profits are at the highest, ever. Government, not including the military, is at it’s smallest, EVER. He is responsible for the increase in GDP, despite the stated goals of the Republican party to destroy the US Economy if it will cause Obama’s failure.
    Thanks to the Republican’s holding the country hostage, as the terrorists they aspire to be, the Democratic Party will not only retain the Executive branch this November, but it regain solid majorities in the House and Senate. And you will have only yourselves to thank as we continue to clean up you mess. Good Day!

  21. JimH says:

    Right, Obama discovered fracting like Gore invented the internet.

  22. bobj998 says:

    It would seem that if you “blame” the President of the United States for a decline, then you have no choice but to either acknowledge his efforts in the increase or admit that you have nothing but your partisan position left to hold on to.

  23. Mike H. says:

    Gee, if the President can do that, then why didn’t Michelle Bachmann become the sole GOP Candidate for her promise of $2 a gallon gasoline?

  24. Trail_Tramp says:

    By the way, the just released GDP report shows a mere 1.7% increase in 2011, down from the 3% in 2010. Let’s see how the Obamanites spin that. Bush’s fault? Racism? Tea Party? Global Warming?

  25. Trail_Tramp says:

    I do not blame Obama for the entire economic failure. I blame that on the liberal utopian Community Reinvestment Act. Obama merely kept the free market economy from recovering faster.

  26. Reuvil says:

    Glad you conservatives are jumping all over this and see how current production was put in motion by bush.

    Just like how bush destroyed our economy and most of europe for that matter, due to 8 years of failed policies.

    Funny, how y’all will still blame the Entire economic failure on Obama. Hell, you conservatives were doing that before he was even sworn in :)

    You see what you want to see…

  27. JohnD says:

    It’s obvious to me that everything bad was caused by the guy I didn’t vote for.

  28. truth_seeker says:

    Interesting how these comments would be COMPLETELY different it the president was WHITE and REPUBLICAN. Y’all would be singing his praises all day long about how he captured Osama, how the GDP is growing, how more jobs are coming back…also, funny how the so called “Libs” are labeled as cry babies by the other side but all I see here is complaining and moaning…man get a thick skin why don’t ya… well, gotta love the hypocrisy and racism, yup that’s right, I said it. Dare you to act like that in public and not just when your around your same colored people at work…yeah, that’s what I thought. Obama 2012..for sure y’all better stock up on Kleenex.

  29. Diogenes says:

    It is not BECAUSE of O’bozo’s policies, it is in SPITE of them.

  30. Freedom says:

    Two letter response to Obama: B.S.

  31. Peter says:

    Dan, did you not realize their are only a total of five sentences between the headline “Is President Barack Obama responsible for U.S. oil production rise?” and that chart presented? This is sensationalism and an attempt to get people debating which president has increased domestic production. If not, there would be far more information and additional quotes and analysis from the original article.
    My two examples of production ramp-up and Middle East security were examples of being simplistic by saying you could argue that “this” or “that” were the main reasons when in reality, and quoting myself, production is an “extremely complex issue”.
    Basically, you and I agree.

  32. bigfishh says:

    Nobody who knos anything about the oil and gas business believes Obama is responsible for the production increase. New production takes years to come on line as Obama & Co always remind us. In addition, Obama’s policies are in direct opposition to exploration, production, and fossil resource development generally. The Keystone pipeline is just the lates, biggest example of left wing idealogy trumping energy security, jobs, and economic growth. Billions for failing solar companies but no credit for oil and gas production!

  33. Trail_Tramp says:

    Dan, I agree with what you say about how little and impact the president has on gasoline prices. Like they say, “figures don’t lie, but liers figure.” I just like to stir things up.

  34. tboyinhouston says:

    the GOP blames the President for the boil on their rear ends. Nothing new for them doing that. It’s not true what they say but that doesn’t matter in their eyes. Lies are all the GOP knows. The economy is growing and things are getting better. 4 more years!

  35. Dollar says:

    SaltwaterCroc, there’s nothing interesting about your noted fact. It just says what most people already know, is that it takes years to get projects off the ground and producing oil.

    And the oil industry can not just gear up instantly, like turning on a faucet.

  36. Trail_Tramp says:

    Technically, it’s a fact that US oil production rose under Jimmy Carter. Should we credit Carter for the rise? Or could the fact that Nixon authorized the Alaska pipeline 3-years before have something to do with it? You know, the same kind of pipeline that Obama rejected.

    • Dan X. McGraw says:

      Trail_Tramp, Robert Rapier pointed out that same fact. Carter benefited greatly from the Alaska pipeline.

  37. Peter says:

    Jerry, I don’t believe for a moment that the current economic situation is Obama’s fault. Has he improved it? NO.
    The blame is on our government, and the largest part of the blame can be directly tied to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Fault rests on both sides of the aisle, but it stems from a government that over-reaches and creates situations ready for collapse.
    When the government has a policy to buy hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgage loan bundles from private banks, giving those banks a guaranteed profit, don’t you think the banks are going to sell them? And the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set the guidelines to include high risk loans, don’t you think the the private banks are going to make those high risk loans that Freddie and Fannie say are good and that they will buy?
    How is the U.S. so far in debt? The ONLY answer is government spending.
    The problem is that our government has over extended it’s scope and has caused way too many problems. It’s time to reduce the size and scope of our government and give control back to the people as the founding fathers envisioned.

  38. Trail_Tramp says:

    Interesting tidbit, during the first 23 months of Bush’s presidency, gasoline prices went up 7%. During Obama’s first 23 months it went up 67%.

    • Dan X. McGraw says:

      Trail_Tramp, we discussed the president’s impact on gasoline prices before here. Most people tend to agree that the president has little impact on the price of a gallon of gas. I’d also say the comparison isn’t really there on Bush vs. Obama on gasoline prices. The price of gas has greatly changed since 2000 (and even before that), and gasoline prices were also on a downward spiral in 2008 due to the recession.

  39. Peter says:

    So, does this graph mean that more people conserved and used alternative energy whle Bush was president?
    If using this graph to boil down the extremely complex issue of oil production to show that Obama is more friendly toward production, then it can be used for just about anything.
    We know that oil companies spend billions of dollars in exploration and that it takes years upon years to go from exploration to production. So does this mean that during the Clinton years, the oil companies discontinued many domestic operations and by the time it began showing up was during the Bush years? Then when Bush was president, the companies began investing in domestic production, but by the time it went from planning to actual barrels coming out of the ground, Obama was now in office?
    Or, does it mean that during the Bush years, oil companies were certain that Bush would keep stablility in the Middle East and not allow countries like Iran to threaten closing the Strait Of Hormuz, so they ramped down domestic production due to lower import costs. Now that Obama is president and they feel the Middle East is no longer secure and with the threat of imported oil prices skyrocketing, they have increased domestic production for fear of shortages?
    Like I said, this is a very complex situation, and the simple way this chart is presented will make anybody with much knowledge of oil supply, demand and production laugh. Tabloid sensationalism.

    • Dan X. McGraw says:

      Peter, I think you are looking at the graph with too much of a critical eye and a bit of cynical view. The graph shows the oil production during the tenure of President George Bush and under President Barack Obama. It’s basic information.

      From what I’ve read, heard and seen, it looks like production rose because more projects came online — i.e. Bakken, Marcellus, Gulf of Mexico and etc. I doubt that oil companies discontinued domestic production because of their trust that Bush would keep stability in the Middle East. I don’t think many people would characterize the Middle East as being politically stable in the last two decades.

  40. westtex says:

    Nice try Dan! Obama was NOT responsible for the increase in production!

    The price of oil climbed back to the Pre-Obama days and this allowed us to drill in places that we previously felt was not economical to drill.

    But keep it up! You Libs will not be satisfied until Obama turns us into Cuba or Venezuela!

    • Dan X. McGraw says:

      Did you not read the story? Or did you just read the headline? The story doesn’t give Obama the credit.

  41. Jerry says:

    Interesting information. But everyone is sure the current economic situation is Obama’s fault.

  42. SaltWaterCroc says:

    Interesting that high oil prices under Bush did not increase production, yet they are responsible for the increase in production under Obama. Of course, the worsening economy throughout Bush’s tenure probably had a lot to do with decrease in production.

  43. Tom Andrew says:

    A more appropriate analysis would be to look at oil & gas production on federal lands and waters vs. oil & gas production on private lands such as in the Bakken formation in North Dakota and other private properties that are producing around the US.

  44. Trail_Tramp says:

    In 2009 the new production from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico started to kick in. You know…that same deepwater production from the Gulf of Mexico that Obama tried to shut-down. The other factor was that oil prices had doubled by the end of 2009, which made many shale oil plays viable. I guess we can give Obama credit for doubling the price of oil, which drove up US production.

  45. bob says:



  46. Jennifer says:

    OBAMA; “Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right — eight years. Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.”

    WASHINGTON POST: “The first statement is a great statistic but not especially noteworthy because there has not been much change in the annual barrels produced in the United States since 2003; it essentially has been steady though it is slightly higher now than in previous years, according to the Energy Information Administration. Production is projected to increase in coming years.”

    They fact check much of the speech here:

    The second claim made it into Obama’s first campaign ad, and as we have noted, it is lacking context. The Energy Department cited a host of reasons why foreign oil imports have declined, noting the main reason was “a significant contraction in consumption” because of the poor economy and changes in efficiency that began “two years before the 2008 crisis” — ie, before Obama took office.

  47. txloanguy says:

    Obama is responsible for raising the costs of production at every turn. The new regs, permit lag times and fees all add up to increased costs, not only for the oil, gas and coal companies, but the consumer. Obama predicted it and he did it. Higher energy costs at every turn, by design. He should WANT higher production figures. He gets more $$$ to waste.

  48. texdjd says:

    It definitely has not been due to Obama’s policies- a fool can see that. As stated in the article increased production came about as a result of actions years earlier. Obama would just as soon have people riding around on donkeys- except himself of course.