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For decades, the common thought about the United States was that its glory days of being the number one producer of oil were long over. Indeed, the current narrative in the US about gas prices is usually based on the uptick or downtick of suppliers from the OPEC cartel.
A report from the Bloomberg news service on July 11 indicated a surprising prediction: that the US is set to become the world’s largest oil producing nation once again:
The U.S. government sees oil production further climbing next year even amid transportation logjams in the country’s most prolific shale play.
The Energy Information Administration sees U.S. crude output averaging 11.8 million barrels a day in 2019, up from its 11.76 million barrel a day estimate in the June outlook.
“In 2019, EIA forecasts that the United States will average nearly 12 million barrels of crude oil production per day,” said Linda Capuano, Administrator of the EIA. “If the forecast holds, that would make the U.S. the world’s leading producer of crude.”
U.S. crude output has remained above the 10-million-barrel a day mark since February. That’s while Saudi Arabia told OPEC it pumped about 10.5 million barrels of crude a day last month as the kingdom sought to cap rallying prices by ramping up output, according to people familiar with the matter.
Concerns linger over the worsening bottleneck in the biggest U.S. shale region, the Permian Basin, and how that might affect domestic output in the second half of the year. Due to limited pipeline transportation in the region, production may start to slow in the area, according to Scott Sheffield, the chairman of Pioneer Natural Resources Co. “We will reach capacity in the next 3 to 4 months,” he said in June.
The EIA left its average domestic output forecast for this year unchanged at 10.79 million barrels a day, above the 1970 record of 9.6 million a day, according to the agency’s Short-Term Energy Outlook released on Tuesday. Its global crude production forecast for next year was raised to 102.54 million barrels a day from a previous forecast of 102.21 million a day. The agency’s world demand growth estimate for 2019 was lowered.
This news has gotten international attention, since oil is such an extremely important commodity. China’s Xinhua news network also remarked on this prediction:
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) crude oil production averaged 31.9 million barrels per day in June.
Although the OPEC and non-OPEC participants agreed on November last year to extend the production cuts through the end of 2018 in order to reduce global oil inventories, tightening market conditions led the group to relax the production cuts starting this month.
EIA expected that OPEC crude oil output will decrease by less than 0.1 million barrels per day on average in 2019, which reflects crude oil production increases from some producers that mostly make up for expected declines of more than 1.0 million barrels per day in Iran and Venezuela combined.
Meanwhile, EIA forecasts that total U.S. crude oil and petroleum product net imports will fall from an annual average of 3.7 million barrels per day in 2017 to an average of 2.4 million barrels per day in 2018 and to an average of 1.6 million barrels per day in 2019, which would be the lowest level of net imports since 1958.
This prediction amounts to a greater than 50% reduction in oil imported to the US, and this also marks a major step towards the vaunted goal of American energy independence.