Top 5 US oil-producing regions

7 Aug

Many Americans do not think of the U.S. as an oil power, likely in part because its energy needs are so great that it must import a good deal of its oil. And, admittedly, the U.S. may not be the dominant figure in the oil industry that it was in the early days of Rockefeller and Standard Oil, but it remains an enormous player in oil production.

In fact, the country has already surpassed Russia as the second-largest oil producer in the world and recent estimates suggest that it could even beat out globe-leading Saudi Arabia.

But where does all of this oil come from?

Texas and Alaska both have a reputation for their ties to the industry, but it stretches a good deal broader than just those two:

  1. Texas – Not surprising given its association with the industry, the leading oil producer in the U.S. by a wide margin is Texas, with nearly 2.3 million barrels per day of production in February 2013. What might surprise some is that this was not always the case – fairly recently, actually.

After decades of declining output from conventional oil wells, the state has seen a sudden surge in output thanks to massive investing in oil wells in unconventional fields from the Barnett shale to the Permian basin. Texas managed to double its already massive production in just three years from the start of 2010 to early 2013.

  1. Federal Offshore, Gulf of Mexico – When Texas fell into second place in the U.S., Alaska was not the one to take the top spot, but rather deeper offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico. Though offshore drilling has varied dramatically in the new millennium, it has drawn significant oil investment and remained at more than 1.4 million barrels per day in February 2013.
  2. North Dakota – Anyone who has been monitoring the oil industry has heard about the dramatic success story of North Dakota, where hydraulic fracturing has opened up the massive oil reserves of the Bakken shale formation. In 2012, the state surpassed Alaska and California to take the number three spot, producing nearly 800,000 barrels per day by early the next year.
  1. Alaska – After a massive boom starting in the late 1970s and continuing through the 1980s, Alaskan oil production has fallen into rapid decline, with no reversal like the one in Texas. In February 2013, the state – really the Alaskan North Slope – was the fourth-largest oil producing region with 540,000 barrels per day. For much of 2012, fluctuations in production pushed it lower than that.
  1. California – Not many Americans associate California with the oil industry, but it was actually the site of one of the biggest oil rushes of the 20th century. However, the state has also been in slow, but steady decline since the mid-1980s. Several oil companies have attempted to replicate the success of Texas in the state’s San Joaquin Basin, but have yet to see similar results. As of February 2013, the state was producing just under 530,000 barrels per day.

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