U.S. To Become Largest Oil Producer by 2017

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Yes, you read that headline correctly. Goldman expects the U.S. to increase production to 10.9 million barrels per day thanks to the shale oil fields and a boom in the Gulf of Mexico.

Goldman claims that U.S. daily production will increase from 8.3 to 10.9 million barrels of oil per day by 2017. This would surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia according to recent production reports. While these reports did not mention that Saudi Arabia claims it can produce as much as 12 mbpd, they did state that Russia would not increase its current production of 10.7 mbpd by more than 100,000 bpd by 2017. It is curious that the Goldman's announcement was apparently not carried by any of the major business or energy-oriented journals (Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Oil & Gas Journal, etc.) nor was it featured on the Goldman website.

There is some disagreement in the actual numbers since natural gas liquids (NGL) are sometimes included in the oil numbers. For instance in June the U.S. produced 5.6 mbpd of oil and 2.2 mbpd of NGL.

NGLs only have about 65% of the BTUs of oil so they are not comparable on a barrel to barrel basis.

The big increase in production has come from the Bakken, which is now close to 400,000 bpd and some believe it could grow to 1.0 mbpd. They are adding 320,000 bpd of rail capacity through 2012 just to transport the oil out of the area.

The Eagle Ford shale is projected to be another area of significant increase. Currently production is only about 14,000 bpd but some estimates believe they can grow to 750,000 bpd over the next decade. Wonder what they are smoking?

You may remember that natural gas in North America was "peaking" in 2007 when a company began experimenting with horizontal drilling along with fracturing to release that shale gas. Almost immediately the shale gas boom was born and now they claim we have 100 years of gas. That same horizontal technology is being applied to shale oil and the resulting oil boom could be huge. This will be significant when peak oil appears in the near future despite the increase in U.S. production. With global consumption increasing by 1.4 mbpd per year it is only a matter of time.