November 30, 2009
U.S. Crude Oil Production in 2009 Poised To Show Big Jump: Platts Analysis
Photo: Platts' new 100-year anniversary global branding ad for oil rolled out in February issue of UK's Energy Risk Magazine; first in a series of Platts' 2009 ads to highlight the commodities it covers: Oil, Petrochemicals, Electricity, Natural Gas, Metals and Renewable Fuels.
• United States crude oil production for 2009 is on target to have its biggest one-year jump since 1970, according to a Platts analysis of industry data.
Platts, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, is a leading global provider of energy and commodities information.
With U.S. oil production averaging 5.268 million barrels per day (b/d) through October, the gain in U.S. output will be the most since the country produced 9.637-million b/d in 1970, which turned out to be the peak year of U.S. crude output, according to Platts' analysis of data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). If that 5.268 million b/d figure holds through December, this year would show a 6.4% boost from the 4.95 million b/d average of 2008 and rank as the best U.S. oil production year since 2004, when output averaged 5.419 million b/d.
Projections from the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) indicate that the primary driver for this year's U.S. oil production resurgence is actually just getting started. That driver is the Gulf of Mexico, where operators have begun launching a group of new fields, fulfilling what has been a decade-long focus on unlocking the promise of deepwater exploration there.
Photo: Oil tanker and offshore drill on ocean.
In its reporting, Platts concluded that with the jump in the Gulf of Mexico, combined with the emergence of two other new oil-production trends, it appears the U.S. has a chance of at least maintaining oil output in the range of five million to six million b/d for some years to come.
The Gulf posted its biggest oil production year in 2002 with 1.556 million b/d, but only 61% of that total came from deepwater. In contrast, this year the MMS projects oil output of 1.213 million b/d with 76% from deepwater as the Gulf ramps toward an expected new oil production record of 1.635 million b/d by 2011.
Besides growth in the Gulf, those other trends involve further development of the Bakken Shale oil play in North Dakota and success by a group of operators now training their onshore exploration sights toward new oil targets at the expense of natural gas.
Photo: Oil Rig at Sunset.
As for companies shifting their strategies, that group includes large Houston independent and Bakken pioneer EOG Resources, which has set a goal of shifting from a 70% gas production share to a 50:50 oil and gas mix by 2011 with a comprehensive review of additional potential North American shale oil targets.
This rise in output has helped the U.S. reduce its net imports -- defined as imports less exports, both crude and petroleum products -- by a substantial amount. While there are many factors that go into the United States' net import figure, the decline has been striking, according to EIA data.
And while the drop in U.S. consumption can be seen as accounting for much of that decline, the U.S. also has put more than 140 million barrels of crude oil and products into inventory since the beginning of October 2008, something made possible in part by the rise in crude oil output.