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U.S. Oil Production Still 2 Million Bpd Under Pre-Pandemic Levels

The EIA might be forecasting that the Permian Basin’s oil production will be rebounding soon, but overall, today’s U.S. oil production is still 2 million barrels per day below the levels seen in January 2020.

The EIA’s Monthly Drilling Productivity Report is forecasting that for the nation’s most prolific basin, the Permian, production will return to 4.466 million barrels per day in May.

That compares to 3.918 million bpd in May 2020—but that was hardly prior to the pandemic. In January 2020, the Permian basin’s average oil production was 4.793 million bpd. This means that oil production in the Permian Basin is down 327,000 bpd, or 7% under January levels.

That’s a fairly good recovery, at least for the Permian. But overall, U.S. oil production is still sitting at 10.9 million bpd—compared to 12.9 million bpd in January of last year. This is 15.5% under January levels.

Other basins aren’t doing quite as well, with the Anadarko Basin still 35% under January levels, the Niobrara Basin 34% under, the Appalachia Basin 15% under, the Bakken 23% under, and the Eagle Ford—the second-largest shale play, at 26% under January levels.

And it’s debatable whether the United States will ever return to those levels. Former U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said last October that he wasn’t so sure U.S. production would rebound to 13 million bpd quickly, anticipating that oil production might hover around 11 million bpd for 2021. And so far, he’s been correct.

Occidental Petroleum’s CEO Vicki Hollub said at a recent press conference that it would be difficult for the U.S. oil and gas industry to get back up to that 13 million bpd. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Too much investment would be required.”

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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