Chart of the day: tight oil

I know that do to fracturing and other new techniques, the US is producing ever more oil and gas than before.  I did not know that this harder-to-extract oil is called “tight oil.”  But, damn, do we kick butt at it:

graph of tight oil production in the U.S. and the rest of the world, as explained in the article text

U.S. tight oil production averaged 3.22 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This level was enough to push overall crude oil production in the United States to an average of 7.84 MMbbl/d, more than 10% of total world production, up from 9% in the fourth quarter of 2012. The United States and Canada are the only major producers of tight oil in the world. In recent years, North American producers have developed technologically advanced drilling and completion processes to produce oil from tight formations.

Tight oil refers to oil found within reservoirs with very low permeability, including but not limited to shale. Permeability is the ability for fluid, such as oil and gas, to move through a rock formation. In February 2014, 63% of U.S. tight oil production came from two basins: the Eagle Ford in South Texas (1.21 MMbbl/d, or 36% of total U.S. tight oil production), and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana (0.94 MMbbl/d, or 28% of total U.S. tight oil production). Tight oil production in the United States represents 91% of all North American tight oil production, with the remaining 9% coming from Canada.

Raise your hand if you thought the US produced 10% of the world’s crude oil.  I knew we were producing a lot more, but had not appreciated just how much.  I learned about “tight oil” in this excellent Vox interview about the many ramifications, foreign and domestic, of the US’s oil boom.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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