The United States is seeing a dramatic surge in oil and gas production and could overtake the world’s biggest producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, in another decade, a US official said here Tuesday.
“Some of the numbers are eye-popping,” Daniel Sullivan, commissioner in Alaska’s department of natural resources, told a panel of experts at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal.
In the last quarter, the US produced six million barrels of conventional and unconventional oil a day, he said, adding: “We haven’t done that in 15 years.”
Since 2008, the US added 1.6 million barrels of additional oil, and in 2011, the US registered the largest increase in oil production of any country outside of OPEC, he said.
These figures compared to a daily output in March of about 9.923 million barrels a day by Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of the OPEC nations, and 9.920 million by Russia, according to the industry data compiler Joint Organisations Data Initiative.
Sullivan said the respected consultancy, PFC Energy, had estimated that by 2020, “the US could be the largest hydrocarbon producer — that’s oil and gas — in the world, overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia”.
In Alaska alone, the potential off the coast was viewed as the largest of any country, about 40 billion barrels in conventional oil, according to the US Geological Survey.
US President Barack Obama has indicated that offshore oil resources could help mitigate global disruptions in supply, and his administration has tried to craft an energy strategy that balances business interests with environmental concerns, especially in the Arctic.