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Natural Resources & Energy
A regional collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

U.S. Becomes Global Leader In Oil Production

Short-Term Energy Outlook
U.S. Energy Information Administration

As of August, the U.S. is the leading producer of crude oil in the world. A new analysis shows the nation surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia in total number of barrels produced per day (b/d) that month, with 11.35 million (b/d).

Since January of 2017, daily crude oil production has increased more than 25 percent -- the fastest growth since the 1950s. Growth primarily occurred in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, and mountain west states like North Dakota and Wyoming.

Carl Larry, a market specialist with Refinitiv, a financial data provider, said the boom is partly due to deregulation.

"Seeing the government - the Trump Administration - really open up lands, government lands, for drilling, for oil, I think that makes a big difference here," he said.

Larry said there are other factors like more efficient technology, cheap labor, and competitive export prices. He said the U.S. has a good profit margin incentivizing more production, rather than some other major oil-producing countries.

"If you go to another country where all the land is owned by the government, it's not going to be as easy to see a lot of open business and a lot of capitalism flourish there," he said.

But environmental advocates like Randi Spivak are concerned. She's the Center for Biological Diversity's public lands program director. Spivak said she's worried about what speedy oil growth means for the environment.

Petroleum Supply Monthly
Credit U.S. Energy Information Administration

"Every new pipeline is pushing us, locking us into a climate chaos future," she said, adding that any new lease is a detriment.

Spivak said she's also concerned about new development's impact on wildlife habitats and migration corridors. For instance, when new infrastructure goes in to support energy development, it interrupts potentially sensitive areas.

She said animals might have to rush through or avoid those areas, "which means that they're displaced, their birth rates generally go down, and ultimately their populations go down."

Since January of last year, Wyoming's crude oil production has increased more than 30 percent.

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