Domestic oil production could reach more than 10 million barrels per day by 2040, with nearly half of these supplies coming from unconventional plays, according to a government report.
The Energy Information Administration has projected that a dramatic increase in production from unconventional plays like tight oil (the hard-to-reach crude trapped in shale rock and other dense formations) and some increased Alaskan Arctic drilling could increase the amount of oil produced domestically by more than 40 percent by 2040.
The United States produced an average of 6.5 million barrels per day in 2012, according to the EIA.
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The projection is the most optimistic of a range of scenarios that the EIA has created to project future energy supply in the United States. It is significantly larger than the default scenario, which estimates roughly 6 million barrels a day of production by 2040.
“Production projections inevitably reflect many uncertainties regarding the actual level of crude oil resources available, the difficulty or ease in extracting them, and the evolution of the technologies (and associated costs) used to recover them,” the EIA said.
The United States’ gap between energy consumption and production is expected to shrink by 2040, but some imports will still be required, the EIA has said in past reports. The gap is expected to fall from 20 percent to about 9 percent by 2040, as new fuel standards, rising energy prices and increased production of both oil and natural gas help close the gap.
The agency estimates that production of liquid fuels — including crude oil, natural gas liquids, biofuels, and others — will increase to more than 18 million barrels per day by 2040. The estimate assumes that emerging technologies will make the recovery of tight oil resources increasingly economic and that undiscovered resources in Alaska and offshore locations will come on line.
In the optimistic scenario, gas-to-liquids production was also assumed to increase.