Energy Department: U.S. oil production declines are over

The decline in U.S. oil production during the two-year bust is over, according to a U.S. Department of Energy outlook report released Tuesday.

U.S. Energy Information Administrator Adam Sieminski noted that American oil production increased in the last three months of the year, marking the first quarterly increase since early 2015 when the two-year oil bust was just beginning to sink in.

Among the report’s other highlights:

• Despite increasing gasoline prices, U.S. fuel consumption is expected to reach a record high in 2017 because of a stronger economy and higher employment.

• U.S. natural gas production is expected to rise the next two years, reversing the first annual decline in more than a decade, as natural gas prices rise.

• Natural gas surpassed coal as the primary source of electrical power for the first time ever in 2016, but coal is expected to make a bit of a comeback in 2017 and could retake its leadership position.

• U.S. oil production averaged 8.9 million barrels per day in 2016 and that amount is expected to grow to 9 million daily in 2017 to to 9.3 million barrels a day in 2018.