US Oil, Gas Drilling Sees Biggest Gains Since 1951

This Associated Press headline says it all: U.S. Poised To Become World’s Top Oil Producer; May Soon Overtake Saudi Arabia

That’s right. Oil production in the US is surging so much and so quickly that the US could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer.

US oil production is expected to rise 7% this year to 10.9 million barrels a day on average. This is the fourth consecutive year of this trend and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.

"Five years ago, if I or anyone had predicted today’s production growth, people would have thought we were crazy," Jim Burkhard, of energy consulting firm IHS CERA, told Associated Press.

If the US hits Department of Energy forecasts of 11.4 million barrels a day next year, that would be just below Saudi Arabia’s output of 11.6 million barrels.

The US consumes 18.7 million barrels a day, but increased fuel economy in cars and trucks, along with increased production could cut imports by half by 2020.

Still, gas prices are high and are expected to remain that way. No matter how much oil we produce at home, it is sold on the international market.  As long as demand is strong in other parts of the world, prices will be high.

Because of these increases the unemplyment rate in North Dakota is just 3% and in Oklahoma, it is 5.2%.

The surge comes from "enhanced" drilling techniques for oil recovery and natural gas fracking. Prices have been high long enough to encourage drillers to exploit new sources which would ordinarily be too expensive to reach. Also, production is climbing again in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Meanwhile, Chevron, the second-largest oil company in the US and eighth-largest in the world, donated $2.5 million in October to a superPAC that helps elect House Republicans. That’s the single largest contribution to a superPAC from a corporation.

Chevron knows if Republicans keep the House, they’ll ensure  drilling opens up even more. As Romney likes to point out, President Obama hasn’t done nearly enough to open our land to oil and gas drilling, and for coal. 

91% of Chevron’s campaign contributions have gone to Republican candidates, which are bent on protecting its $700 million in annual tax breaks.  At the same time, Chevron spent $16.6 million to lobby Congress to block "burdensome" pollution controls and safeguards for public health. 

Fossil fuel groups have spent more than $153 million on campaign ads to promote pro-fossil fuel candidates, reports ClimateProgress.

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