Largest Oil Producer? United States To Be No. 1 by End of 2013

Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013 09:54 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The largest oil producer by year's end will be the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA announcement Friday contradicted the preconceived notion that Russia and the Middle East have most of the world’s fossil fuels.

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The primary driver of the surge in petroleum and gas in the U.S. is hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

As of 2012, the U.S. already surpassed Russia in production of petroleum and gas fuels, and it will surpass Saudi Arabia, the current leader in oil production, by the end of this year, MSN Money reported.

U.S. petroleum and gas production in 2013 will reach 50 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), which is equivalent to 25 million barrels of oil per day, which is about 5 quadrillion Btu more than what Russia currently produces, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Whereas both Saudi Arabia and Russia have increased their combined petroleum and natural gas production by about 1 quadrillion Btu since 2008, the U.S. has increased its production by 7 quadrillion Btu over the same time period, according to the EIA.

Leading the charge in petroleum and natural gas production is Texas and North Dakota.

In Texas, the number of drilling permit applications have reached 30-year highs, according to Barry Smitherman, the Chairman for the Texas Railroad Commission, reported.

Texas oil production has surpassed 1.8 million barrels per day and will likely hit three million barrels per day by 2017 and four billion barrels by 2020, reported.

At the 2012 rate of consumption, the EIA estimates that the nation's natural gas reserves would last about 92 years, MSN reported. However, production levels during that period will fluctuate due to demand and technological advances.

Despite the success of fracking, the practice remains controversial, as it is often criticized by various environmental and conservation organizations who say the practice wreaks havoc on the environment. 

In its report titled "Fracking by the Numbers" the Boston-based advocacy group Environment America claims that in 2012 fracking produced 280 billion gallons of toxic waste, 450 tons of air pollution, and directly damaged 360,000 acres of land since 2005.

Though energy companies admit that fracking does come with risks, they say the practice can be carried out in a manner that safeguards land, wildlife, and subsurface water.

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Related stories:

Research: Emissions Produced by Fracking Less Than Government Claims

Study: Eagle Ford Texas Earthquakes Linked to Fracking

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