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Here's how much oil the US produced in the last decade

Social media is full of opinions and "hot takes" about whether oil production should be increased or decreased. The first step is understanding the data.

WASHINGTON — As gas prices continue to rise, many are calling on the U.S. to increase production of oil and petroleum products. Some claim this will eventually boost supply, and limit the prices long term. 

But how much oil and gas does the U.S. produce? And how does this production level compare to the past? Our team dug through the data to verify. 

QUESTION:

How much oil and gas does the U.S. produce, and how does this compare to past years? 

SOURCES:

ANSWER:

The U.S. remained the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, producing over 4 billion barrels of crude oil in 2021. This was a dip from the peak in 2019, but still remains higher than any point prior to that year. 

WHAT WE FOUND: 

On social media, there is a mix of opinions about whether the U.S. should increase its production of oil and petroleum products. Many in the GOP are quick to call on the Biden administration to increase the country's production. 

But supporters of Biden are quick to point out that gas and oil production is nearing record highs. Press Secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter that production of natural gas and oil is "rising and approaching record levels." 

To verify, our team dug into data from the Energy Information Administration, which releases the production levels for both "crude oil" and "crude oil and petroleum products." 

The data shows that there were 4,082,478,000 barrels of crude oil produced in 2021, an amount that is greater than any time in American history, except 2020 and the peak in 2019. 

  • 2017: 3,415,257,000 Barrels of Crude Oil
  • 2018: 3,993,288,000 Barrels of Crude Oil
  • 2019: 4,485,635,000 Barrels of Crude Oil
  • 2020: 4,129,563,000 Barrels of Crude Oil
  • 2021: 4,082,478,000 Barrels of Crude Oil

HOW WE GOT HERE: 

The graph below, provided by the Energy Information Administration, shows the ups and downs of crude oil production throughout American history. We asked our experts to explain the peaks and valleys.

Credit: Energy Information Administration

"You'll see that U.S. oil production peaked around the 1970s," said Mark Finley from the Baker Institute at Rice University. 

Finley explained that production went through a 30-year decline between the 1970s and the 2000s. 

"The United States was in steady decline," said Robert Weiner from The George Washington University. "This was basically because [the U.S. had] been drilled out." 

Finley agreed. 

"What was happening was those conventional oil fields were maturing," he said. "And not as productive as they once were." 

Our experts said that this trend all changed in the mid-2000s due to the "Shale Revolution." This was when techniques like hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, were first used, unleashing a huge spike in production.

"That shale revolution took place across successive administrations of both Democrats and Republicans," Finley said. 

In 2019, crude oil production reached a peak in the United States, with an estimated 4,485,635,000 barrels. Our experts said that this production dropped slightly in 2020 and 2019, due to the global pandemic. 

"With demand way down, production needed to go down also," Weiner said. "So the oil companies produced less and they were very unprofitable." 

Despite this drop from 2019's peak, the levels of production in 2021 were unmatched globally. 

"The United States is the number one oil producer in the world," Weiner said. "We produce more oil and gas than any other country in the world." 

This was confirmed by the Energy Information Administration. The EIA listed the U.S. as the top producer, with 18.61 million barrels per day, equivalent to 20% of the world supply. 

Credit: Energy Information Administration

There was a similar trend, when considering petroleum products as well. In 2021, the U.S. produced 6,052,509,000 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products, which was only surpassed in 2019. 

  • 2017: 4,795,959,000 barrels of crude oil + petroleum products
  • 2018: 5,588,101,000 barrels of crude oil + petroleum products  
  • 2019: 6,246,598,000 barrels of crude oil + petroleum products 
  • 2020: 6,023,457,000 barrels of crude oil + petroleum products  
  • 2021: 6,052,509,000 barrels of crude oil + petroleum products 

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