The U.S. shale boom is about to hit another big milestone, as it looks like fracking will propel American liquid petroleum production (that includes oil and natural gas liquids) past Saudi Arabia for the first time in nearly a quarter century. The FT reports:
US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.
With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991. [...]
Rising oil and gas production has caused the US trade deficit in energy to shrink, and prompted a wave of investment in petrochemicals and other related industries. [...] It is also having an impact on global security. Imports are expected to provide just 21 per cent of US liquid fuel consumption next year, down from 60 per cent in 2005.
The natural gas liquids portion is largely a byproduct of drilling for shale gas, and are used as a feedstock for petrochemical companies (like BASF, which recently decided to move more of its operations into the United States). Take those NGLs out of the equation, and Saudi Arabia and Russia both edge out the United States on crude production. But American oil output is expected to break 9 million barrels per day sometime this year, edging closer to Russia’s 10.1 million b/d and Saudi’s 9.7 million b/d.
With productivity continuing to rise, the United States has a chance to become the single biggest producer of crude oil sometime in the near future. If you had said that a decade ago, you would’ve been laughed at and called a fool. What a difference fracking makes.