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U.S. Daily Oil Production At Highest Level Since 1998

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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United States oil production is on the rise. In the first quarter of 2012, average domestic crude oil production topped 6 million barrels per day (bbl/day). This is the first time that U.S. quarterly oil production has been above the 6 million bbl/day mark since 1998.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this production growth is primarily the result of increases in output in North Dakota, Texas, and the Gulf of Mexico. In particular, North Dakota, as of March 2012, topped Alaska as the second largest oil producing state in the United States. This state had just surpassed California in average daily production last December. Both of these ranking changes are with respect to average daily production.

Combined, the top five oil-producing states in the U.S. (Texas, North Dakota, Alaska, California, and Oklahoma) account for more than 50% of total domestic production. The graph below shows how North Dakota’s production has been on a sharp rise since 2007. Note that this graphic reflects annual production levels, and so includes data through the end of 2011.

If North Dakota keeps up its currently production levels, it could surpass California and Alaska in total annual production for 2012.

Photo Credit:
1. Graphics courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy’s, Energy Information Administration

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. evosburgh 12:42 pm 06/11/2012

    Nice, and all with an administration that has done everything in its power to increase the price of hydrocarbons so that alternative energy appears competitive. Shut off the GOM and what do you get? Investment and production from the onshore assets.

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  2. 2. JamesDavis 4:10 pm 06/11/2012

    “evosburgh”, you are a dimwit. No administration can increase gas or oil prices or lower them; didn’t your demigod Bush tell you that? And what’s wrong with competitive alternative energy competing with oil. The less oil we use, the longer it will last. And the more alternative energy we use the cleaner our environment will be. What do you have against living in a clean environment?

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