Annual average U.S. crude oil production reached 9.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, an increase of 464,000 b/d from 2016 levels after declining by 551,000 b/d in 2016. In November 2017, monthly U.S. crude oil production reached 10.07 million b/d, the highest monthly level of crude oil production in U.S. history. U.S. crude oil production has increased significantly over the past 10 years, driven mainly by production from tight rock formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. EIA projects that U.S. crude oil production will continue to grow in 2018 and 2019, averaging 10.7 million b/d and 11.3 million b/d, respectively.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly and State Energy Data System
Note: EIA’s State Energy Data System has annual values for crude oil production for 1970 through 1980.
Although much has changed since 1970, Texas continues to produce more crude oil than any other state or region of the United States. Texas has held the top position in nearly every year since 1970, with the exceptions of 1988, when Alaska produced more crude oil than Texas, and from 1999 through 2011, when production from the Federal Gulf of Mexico was higher.
Texas crude oil production averaged 3.5 million b/d in 2017 and reached a record high monthly level of 3.95 million b/d in December 2017. Texas’s 2017 annual production increase of nearly 300,000 b/d—driven by significant growth within the Permian region—was more than all other states and the Federal Gulf of Mexico combined.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly
Growth in the Permian region, which spans parts of Texas and New Mexico, also contributed to a 74,000 b/d production increase in New Mexico, the state with the second-largest growth in 2017. New Mexico surpassed California and Alaska to become the third-largest crude oil-producing state in the second half of 2017, although it produced less than those states on an annual average basis.
In the Federal Gulf of Mexico, new projects and expansions that started in 2016 ramped up production in 2017, which, along with two other projects that began in 2017, contributed to 51,000 b/d of annual growth to reach the highest annual average crude oil production from the Federal Gulf of Mexico. The Federal Gulf of Mexico was the second-largest producing region in 2017.
Production levels in Colorado, Oklahoma, and North Dakota each grew by more than 30,000 b/d from 2016 to 2017, while Alaskan production increased only slightly. California’s production declined 34,000 b/d, the state’s third consecutive annual decline.
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This winter, natural gas prices have been at their lowest levels in decades. On Monday, February 10, the near-month natural gas futures price at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) closed at $1.77 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). This price was the lowest February closing price for the near-month contract since at least 2001, in real terms, and the lowest near-month futures price in any month since March 8, 2016, according to Bloomberg, L.P. and FRED data.
In addition, according to Natural Gas Intelligence data, the daily spot price at the Henry Hub national benchmark was $1.81/MMBtu on February 10, 2020, the lowest price in real terms since March 9, 2016. Henry Hub spot prices have ranged between $1.81/MMBtu and $2.84/MMBtu this winter heating season (since November 1, 2019), generally because relatively warm winter weather has reduced demand for natural gas for heating. Natural gas production growth has outpaced demand growth, reducing the need to withdraw natural gas from underground storage.
Dry natural gas production in January 2020 averaged about 95.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), according to IHS Markit data. IHS Markit also estimates that in January 2020 the United States saw the third-highest monthly U.S. natural gas production on record, down slightly from the previous two months.
IHS Markit estimates that U.S. natural gas consumption by residential, commercial, industrial, and electric power sectors averaged 96 Bcf/d for January, which was about 4.4 Bcf/d less than the average for January 2019, largely because of decreases in residential and commercial consumption as a result of warmer temperatures.
However, IHS Markit estimates that overall consumption of natural gas (including feed gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities, pipeline fuel losses, and net exports by pipeline to Mexico) averaged about 117.5 Bcf/d in January 2020, an increase of about 0.2 Bcf/d from last year. This overall increase is largely a result of an almost doubling of LNG feed gas to about 8.5 Bcf/d.
Because supply growth has outpaced demand growth, less natural gas has been withdrawn from storage withdrawals this winter. Despite starting the 2019–20 heating season with the third-lowest level of natural gas inventory since 2009, by January 17, 2020, working natural gas inventories reached relatively high levels for mid-winter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) data on natural gas inventories for the Lower 48 states as of February 7, 2020, reflect a 215 Bcf surplus to the five-year average. In EIA’s latest short-term forecast, more natural gas remains in storage levels than the previous five-year average through the remainder of the winter.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January 2020 was the fifth-warmest in its 126-year climate record. Heating degree days (HDDs), a temperature-based metric for heating demand, have been relatively low this winter, which is consistent with a warmer winter. During some weeks in late December and early January, the United States saw 25% to 30% fewer HDDs than the 30-year average. This winter, through February 8, residential natural gas customers in the United States have seen 11% fewer HDDs than the 30-year average.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center data
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 10 February 2020 – Brent: US$53/b; WTI: US$49/b
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