Price, technology driving U.S. oil production

Domestic oil production is on the rise but so is the political debate about who should take the credit.

According to an Energy Information Administration report, U.S. oil production rose through the first three months of 2012 to the highest level since 1998. Experts, however, say the Obama administration and Congress shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back.

“In the end, the president and Congress can’t take credit for what price and technology have delivered,” Tom Kloza, the chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service, told Politico. “It would be akin to taking credit for the iPad.”

Crude oil prices stayed over the $100-mark for most of the first five months of the year before falling to $80-range in the past month. Those high prices, Kloza told Politico, gave companies an incentive to explore the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays.

Technology is also driving the increase in production. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are opening more areas up for exploration and development, creating a land rush in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and other parts of the nation.

Kloza told Politico the trend likely will continue unless crude oil prices collapse or there is a scientific indictment on fracking.

Republicans and Democrats have sparred over the past year about energy production. Republicans are pushing for increased drilling and less regulatory red tape, claiming the Obama administration is hindering U.S. production.

Industry and Republican officials have insisted that the rise in oil production is due to increase driving on private and state lands, two areas the president has little control over.

Democrats, on the other hand, have said the numbers speak for themselves. U.S. oil production has risen every year since President Barack Obama took office.

“That is certainly thanks in part to steps taken by this administration,” White House spokesman Clark Stevens told Politico.