US crude oil production will come close to the record highs reached in the 1970’s in less than three years time, as the shale boom continues to boot output, said Monday the country’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The fresh forecast marks a notorious change from estimates of only five years ago, when US crude production seemed to be facing an inescapable long-term decline.
According to the agency’s latest Annual Energy Outlook, daily US production will rise to reach 9.5 million barrels per day in 2016, and then will level off before slowly falling after 2020.
The report said, however, that production would still be above 9 million bpd in 2025, which is a million barrels a day more than current levels. And the US would be pumping 7.5 million bpd in 2040, more than last year’s 6.1 million bpd forecast.
According to EIA Administrator, Adam Sieminski, the predictions show how improvements in the techniques of horizontal drilling and fracking made economic by higher oil prices have unlocked oil and gas reserves that were not previously commercially viable.
Gas on the rise
Natural gas production in the country, already at record levels, is slated to keep soaring with an estimated 56% increase between 2012 and 2040.
The EIA believes the US will become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas in 2016 and an overall net exporter of gas in 2018–two years earlier than last year’s report forecasts.
Among the markets for that new production will be electricity generation, with gas overtaking coal as a fuel for power plants in 2030, and exports, with pipeline sales to Mexico taking the largest volumes, but also shipments of liquefied natural gas around the world.
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Image by Paul Lowry