Photo: James Durbin / For The Chronicle / For The Chronicle
The United States likely surpassed Russia this summer to stake its claim as the world’s top oil producer, the U.S. Energy Department said Wednesday.
The Energy Department estimates that the United States churned out 10.9 million barrels a day in August compared to about 10.8 million barrels a day for Russia. It would be the first time the U.S. has led the world in crude oil production in decades.
Driven by the shale drilling boom, especially in West Texas’ Permian Basin, U.S. producers are pumping record volumes of oil and natural gas. In fact, the U.S. has led the world in combined oil and gas production since 2012.
In terms of crude oil production, the United States moved past Saudi Arabia a few months ago to claim second place behind Russia. The Energy Department expects U.S. crude production to exceed Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s through the rest of this year and into next year..
Russia estimates its volumes at 11.2 million barrels daily, but that includes condensate, which is produced along with the crude oil.
The Energy Department has long projected that it was just a matter of time before United States passed Russia in oil output. Despite pipeline shortages slowing growth in the Permian — at least temporarily — the Energy Department projects that the United States. will average 11.5 million barrels of oil production a day next year.
The growth has come quickly since prices rebounded following the recent oil bust, rising above $70 a barrel. Just last year, U.S. production averaged 9.4 million barrels a day.
U.S. crude oil exports are also growing quickly, averaging almost 2 million barrels a day.