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Due to plunging drilling activity amid low oil prices, U.S. crude oil production fell by nearly 1 million barrels per day (bpd) last year, registering the largest annual decline in history, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.
In 2020, U.S. crude oil production averaged 11.3 million bpd, dropping by 935,000 bpd—or 8 percent—compared to the record-high annual average of 12.2 million bpd in 2019.
Less than two months after American crude oil production reached a peak of 12.8 million bpd in January 2020, oil prices collapsed in March, leading to production shut-ins over the following months, and to the lowest average monthly production for 2020 in May, when U.S. output was just 10 million bpd, according to EIA’s estimates.
Texas continued to lead the nation’s crude oil production in 2020, accounting for 43 percent of all crude pumped in America. Output, however, dropped by 4 percent, or by 205,000 bpd to average 4.87 million bpd in 2020, compared to the record high of 5.07 million bpd set in the previous year.
The largest decrease occurred in the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico, where production fell by 245,000 bpd, or by 13 percent, to an annual average of 1.65 million bpd last year, due to several hurricanes and tropical storms which forced operators to shut in production.
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North Dakota saw the second-largest decrease at 242,000 bpd, down by 17 percent, to an annual average of 1.18 million bpd.
One state, however, registered a production increase in 2020. Thanks to the part of the Permian it hosts, New Mexico saw its production rise by 133,000 bpd, or by 15 percent, to a record annual average of 1.04 million bpd, according to EIA data.
Total U.S. crude oil production in December fell to 11 million bpd, while the EIA sees 2021 output averaging 11 million bpd, down from 11.3 million bpd in 2020, before rising to 11.5 million bpd in 2022.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
A combination of the pandemic and reckless production caused the US shale industry to lose an estimated 6.5 mbd according to my calculations, incur hundreds of billions in debts and lose its importance to the global oil market. The industry emerged from the pandemic virtually emaciated and demoralized needing a life support machine provided by US taxpayers to survive.
The industry could hardly expect to stage a comeback soon. The crucial situation facing it is that its fate is now in the hands of OPEC+. Were OPEC+ to go after market share, prices will fall and this will immediately and very adversely impact on shale oil production.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London