The United States is on track to be the biggest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia this year, according to new data released by the federal Energy Information Administration.
The rise to the top was fueled by new drilling techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have unlocked vast quantities of oil and gas from shale rock formations – especially in North Dakota and Texas.
America was on track to produce just under 25m barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels, the EIA said. Russia was just under 22m barrels a day.
America had already surpassed Russia in natural gas production last year, pulling ahead for the first time since 1982.
But this was the first year the US was on pace to surpass Russia in production of both oil and natural gas.
“Total petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production estimates for the United States and Russia for 2011 and 2012 were roughly equivalent — within 1 quadrillion Btu of one another,” the EIA said. “In 2013, however, the production estimates widen out, with the United States expected to outproduce Russia by five quadrillion Btu,” the agency said.
Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale produced over 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas during the first half of 2013 according to the most recent numbers released by the state Department of Environmental Protection– that represents a 57 percent increase in gas production compared to the same time period from last year.