US May Overtake Saudi Arabia to Become World's Top Oil Producer (Maybe)

cursedthing/CC BY-ND 2.0

The AP reports that US production of oil and other liquid hydrocarbons is set to rise 7% this year, marking the fourth straight year of increased production—so much for the Republican notion that the Obama administration has been anything but supportive of the oil industry. It's the biggest gain in a single year since the early 1950s.

The Energy Department forecasts that U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels, will average 11.4 million barrels per day next year. That would be a record for the U.S. and just below Saudi Arabia's output of 11.6 million barrels. Citibank forecasts U.S. production could reach 13 million to 15 million barrels per day by 2020, helping to make North America "the new Middle East."

Lost in the headlines, no doubt sometimes written with smugness stuffed between the letters, is something that Grist points out, though it's in plain view: "crude oil and other liquid hydrocarbons."

SmartPlanet, talking about slightly older numbers, reminds us that it's actually the growth in these other categories of products (lumped in with oil but "not equivalent to crude oil on an energy basis [and] some of it isn't even used as fuel for motor vehicles") that have resulted in a good deal of the growth, as has expansion of fracking—which, though most often associated with natural gas, is also used for oil production.

Nevertheless, the SmartPlanet piece concludes that by counting all those other liquid hydrocarbons in with oil overstates the supply of actual oil by one-third.

Read the linked AP piece for all the details on fracking for oil, and the linked SmartPlanet piece for what makes up all those other liquid hydrocarbons.

Tags: Oil | United States