U.S. oil production increased by 60,000 barrels a day in January, the Energy Department said Friday, an early sign of the energy industry’s turnaround this year.
The nation’s oil output rose about 1 percent to 8.84 million barrels a day, with the bulk of the increase coming from Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Output had dropped the month before by 91,000 barrels a day.
January’s increase came against the backdrop of OPEC’s efforts to cut oil production and support crude prices. The Energy Information Administration believes drillers across the country could raise output to 9.44 million barrels a day this year, up by 630,000 compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.
The EIA’s monthly oil-production data, which is based on a survey of oil producers, is considered more reliable than its weekly output data, which is based on a formula that accounts for rig activity, oil prices and other factors.
Still, the weekly figures indicate U.S. oil production has risen above 9.1 million barrels a day, up by 700,000 barrels a day since last summer. Though the figure may not be precise, in analysts’ view, it indicates the direction oil production is going – up, and quickly.
Analysts say a rush to pump shale oil would bring back many of the barrels of oil OPEC has tried to keep off the market. Since September, countries outside of the cartel including the United States, Canada and Brazil have increased oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day, the same amount OPEC producers have cut since January, according to IHS Energy.
“OPEC just watched the U.S. rig count double in the last six months,” said R.T. Dukes, an analyst at energy research firm Wood Mackenzie in Houston. “The U.S. is now a bigger actor in the world. And these (U.S. oil) companies want to get back to growth.”