America produced more oil and gas than any other country in 2014, claiming the title of the world’s top hydrocarbon producer for the third year in a row. The EIA reports:
Since 2008, U.S. petroleum production has increased by more than 11 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), with dramatic growth in Texas and North Dakota. Despite the 50% decline in crude oil prices that occurred in the second half of last year, U.S. petroleum production still increased by 3 quadrillion Btu (1.6 million barrels per day) in 2014. Natural gas production—largely from the eastern United States—increased by 5 quadrillion Btu (13.9 billion cubic feet per day) over the past five years. Combined hydrocarbon output in Russia increased by 3 quadrillion Btu and in Saudi Arabia by 4 quadrillion Btu over the past five years.
In 2011, American oil production lagged behind both Saudi Arabia and Russia. One year later the shale boom propelled the U.S. past Russia, and a year after that, past the Saudis. Now, there’s no doubt that the U.S. is the world’s preeminent hydrocarbon supplier, producing nearly twice as much as oil and gas as Saudi Arabia and roughly 20 percent more than Russia.
Low oil prices threaten to slow shale’s momentum here in the U.S., as producers scale back high-cost production. Meanwhile, conventional producers like Russia and the Saudis look set to keep the crude and natural gas flowing as they compete for shares of an increasingly crowded global marketplace.
But while the fracking industry is in a tighter spot than it was at this time last year (when prices were above $100 per barrel), the American energy renaissance is already showing a remarkable resilience as operators find new ways to drill cheaply and efficiently. That impulse to ceaselessly refine methods and discover new best practices is what started this boom, and it’s what will help keep it going.