Economics of US Oil Production

Fat years of fossil fuel production are coming to the U.S. thanks to shale oils and natural gas.  Predicted average U.S. crude production for 2014 is 8.5 million barrels per day, up one million barrels per day from 2013, which was up one million barrels per day from 2012, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  By 2020 the U.S. is predicted to be the largest oil producer, according to the International Energy Agency. 

 Increased production may bring down the price of crude but increased demand is likely to keep the price high and going up.  The greatest guzzler of petroleum products is currently the U.S.  The second greatest guzzler, China, is catching up with the U.S., and chases gas from many countries.  Also, developing nations are demanding more and more petroleum products.  The market is strong, and as the global economy grows likely too will the demand for crude. 

 Many regions in the U.S. have shale resources.  The six major shale resources are: Bakken, located in Montana and North Dakota; Niobrara, located mostly in Wyoming and Colorado, and a little in Nebraska and Kansas; Permina, in Texas and New Mexico; Eagle Ford in Texas; Haynesville, mainly in Texas and Louisiana, and a little in Arkansas; and Marcellus, stretching across parts of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a little in New Jersey, Virginia and Ohio.  Also, the U.S. continues to reap production from off shore oil drilling platforms.    

 In December 2013, 18 percent of U.S. natural gas production was expected to come out of Marcellus, and one million barrels daily of oil was expected out of Bakken.  A big factor in the heightened ability of the U.S. to produce crude oil is the significance of new technology for drilling and producing oil and natural gas.

 Overall peak for U.S. consumption of motor gas was 9.3 to 9.6 million barrels per day in 2007.   That figure dropped considerably in 2008 when gas prices hovered around $4 a gallon, and the country was financially compromised with recession.  The yearly peak in 2012 for consumption was 9.0 million barrels per day.  In August 2012 the national average price for a gallon was $3.71, and that same month the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) closed at 13,090.84.  On Dec. 30, 2013 the average price for a gallon of motor gas was $3.31, and the Dow average was at 16,481.77.  For 2014, an average of $3.43 a gallon for motor gas in the U.S. is predicted, and the predicted yearly peak of U.S. consumption is 9.12 million barrels per day.  Many stock market strategists do not envision a 2014 market as robust as 2013, but they do expect to see at least modest growth. 

 In 2007 the U.S. imported 10,031,000 barrels of crude oil per day.  With the predicted increase in production compared against predicted consumption, the U.S. is on track to import an average of 62,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

 Gas money that has been going overseas will increasingly stay in the U.S, and in future years, as the U.S. becomes the planet’s largest oil producer, it is plausible that export money from crude oil will increasingly flow into the country.  Gross domestic product (GDP) statistics should go up, and this is particularly globally powerful as the U.S. GDP already far exceeds that of any other country.  Also, presumably, accessing and controlling large amounts of fossil fuels, on a planet evermore dependent on petroleum products, will change political and economic negotiating power internationally. 

 Joan Brown ~ contributor