Energy fact of the day: US oil production is growing faster than ever

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The believers in peak oil are much quieter these days. The prophecies of the peak occurring by 2010, 2011, 2012, have, well, they have all got a few years added on to them. This is the fate of all such prophecy.

Perhaps the most clear evidence of the death of a near term peaking in oil production has been the resurgence of US oil production. Here is a time series of the last century of US oil production.


What do yearly changes in production look like? Here are the year to year changes since 1900:


As you can see, the biggest annual increase in American oil production occurred last year. In fact, the three biggest increases in production happened in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

What about this year? So far production data is only available for the first quarter. But we can look at year on year changes for that quarter and compare them with the historical data.

Here is historical production in the first quarter:


Oil production in the first quarter was very close to the all time high. In fact, it has only been higher in 1970 and 1971. But clearly one more year of growth like this year’s and first quarter production will be a record high.

What does the annual change in production look like? Year on year growth in the first quarter was greater than that in 2014. With the same exception of 1951, the growth figure was greater than any year on record. Lower oil prices do not seem to have stopped the rapid growth of oil production.


Note on data

I have taken historical US production figures from EIA.


2 thoughts on “Energy fact of the day: US oil production is growing faster than ever

    mikestasse said:
    June 14, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Yeah but what about peak OIL ENERGY? It’s all very well producing more barrels, but if it’s done using more and more other barrels, often from better quality wells, what is the point?

    Make no mistake, Peak Oil is bang on target…. and the Carbon bubble is about to burst, with oil companies going tits up unable to make a decent profit.


    Sam Taylor said:
    June 14, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    It’s taken almost 8 years years of oil averaging around $90/bbl (a price point at which most developed countries have shed consumption) for us to manage to squeeze an extra 5mbpd out of source rocks, beneat deepwater salt deposits and mined from tar sands in Canada (note that all the growth in global oil production in the last decade or so has pretty much come from the US and Canada). I don’t know if you read the Campbell and Laherrere paper, but they state that “The world is not running out of oil— at least not yet. What our society does face, and soon, is the end of the abundant and cheap oil”. They predicted that conventional oil would be unable to keep up with demand (on which count they were right) and that while the world might end up turning to unconventional resources, that they would require both a lot of money and would cause significant damage. The latter count is self evidently true, and I don’t know if you keep up with the finances of the oil industry, but a significant number of both the shale drillers and the big boys like BP are in a pretty nasty place, and were there before the price crash. America’s spurt in production has currently created a $24bn debt pile which seems unlikely to be paid off at present time. If financing for new wells does dry up and drilling slows significantly, then given the remarkable decline curves of shale wells it’s entirely plausible that we could see record declines in US production in the coming years. The dynamics of shale production are quite astonishingly unstable.

    Anyway, given the massive cutbacks in exploration and development (many of which were in the pipeline before the crash, but were accelerated) and the associated lags with these, we can probably expect to see oil production put in another 2005 like peak before the end of the decade (the industry can’t turn on a penny). Whether it’s the final one remains to be see, but it’ll probably kick the economy in the teeth just as hard as the one back in 2005 did.


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