The US oil industry has been continually setting new records for oil production, thanks in no small part to the shale revolution. Now, for the first time since 1973, preliminary data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has the US overtaking both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s top oil producer.
The shale oil industry, especially in the prolific Permian Basin, has led to US oil production doubling over the past decade. The oil price crash that started in 2014 hit the industry hard and pushed some oil companies out of business. Nevertheless, operators like ExxonMobil, which also makes lubricants for Mobil UK distributors, found ways to do more with less. Thanks to efficiency improvements and better technology, many shale plays can now even make a profit at modest oil prices. Furthermore, Texas alone is now producing more oil than Iraq, for example.
The EIA estimates that total US production reached almost 11 million bpd (barrels per day) in August. This was enough to nudge the US ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia, both of which have been ramping up production in recent months in response to the latest easing of the OPEC-led production caps.
The IEA also expects the US to retain the top spot through 2019. While the IEA does not forecast oil production for other countries, production growth in Russia and Saudi Arabia has been historically more steady than the rapid growth being driven by the shale revolution.