U.S. oil production rose to the highest in almost 18 years as a shale drilling boom cut reliance on foreign fuel and nudged the country closer to energy independence.
Output swelled by 8,000 barrels to 6.68 million barrels a day in the week ended Nov. 2, the Energy Department reported today. It was the most since Dec. 23, 1994. Improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have unlocked fuel trapped in deep underground rock formations in states such as North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma.
The U.S. met 83% of its energy needs in first six months of 2012, on track to be the highest annual level since 1991, according to department data compiled by Bloomberg. Production advanced 31 percent this year in North Dakota, 19 percent in Texas and 11 percent in Oklahoma, department records show. Crude imports have declined 11 percent this year.
“Every added barrel we make here is another barrel we don’t need from somewhere else,” said Kyle Cooper, director of commodities research at IAF Advisors, a Houston consulting firm. “U.S. production could reach 9 million to 10 million barrels per day in another five to 10 years.”
Oil fell $3.59 a barrel, or 4.1 percent, to $85.12 on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 12:19 p.m. Futures have declined 14 percent this year.