Could the US surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production?

A few days ago a friend of mine said the US could soon surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production. I had a hard time believing it, so didn’t give it much thought.  My mistake.

Let’s look at his comment again.

An AP story today, US may soon be top oil producer in the world, says that US oil production is rising so fast that we could surpass Saudi Arabia soon.

The key sentence:

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.

It’s been a while since I looked at production levels by country.  Did some quick checking.  I’d forgotten how close production in the US is to the level in Saudi Arabia.

Here is some 2010 data from The World Factbook, which is public data provided by the CIA:

  • Saudi Arabia – 10.5M bopd – 2010 estimate
  • Russia – 10.3M bopd – 2010
  • United States – 9.7M bopd – 2010 estimate

Here is a little more current info from Wikipedia:

  • Russia – 10.5M bopd – 2011
  • Saudi Arabia – 8.8Mbopd – 2011
  • United States – 7.8M bopd – 2011

I do not understand why the numbers and relationships are fluctuating so widely, particularly since the Wikipedia page says the data is primarily based on the CIA World Factbook.

Regardless of the differences in data, the relationship is very obvious – – production level in the US is relatively close to that in Saudi Arabia.

With the rapid expansion in production in Bakken, plus rapid ramp-up in Eagle Ford, combined with other large shale fields that are just starting to come online, it won’t take very long for production in the US to overtake Saudi production.

So my friend’s comment was quite correct.  Cool.  I still have a lot of learning to do. 

(I first saw the article in the Dickinson Press. In case the link above breaks, the AP article is all over the ‘net. Look here or here.)

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