According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US remained the world's top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2015. US petroleum and natural gas production first surpassed Russia in 2012, and the United States has been the world's top producer of natural gas since 2011 and the world's top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013.
For the US and Russia, total petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production, in energy content terms, is approximately evenly split between petroleum and natural gas. Saudi Arabia's production, on the other hand, heavily favors petroleum.
During 2015, US crude oil prices stayed relatively low, with the spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil declining from US$47/bbl in January to US$37/bbl in December. Despite low crude oil prices and a 60% drop in the number of operating oil and natural gas rigs, US petroleum supply still increased by 1.0 million bpd in 2015. US natural gas production increased by 3.7 billion ft3/d, with nearly all of the increase occurring in the eastern US.
Increases in US petroleum and natural gas production over the past several years are directly attributed to production from tight oil and shale gas formations. Several factors kept hydrocarbon production increases in Russia smaller than increases in the United States in 2015. Although Russian petroleum production continued to increase, natural gas production declined because of poor economic conditions and a mild winter, which resulted in lower domestic demand for natural gas. Russia's total combined production of petroleum and natural gas increased by just 0.1 quadrillion Btu in 2015.
In contrast to past actions to raise or lower oil production levels to balance global oil markets, Saudi Arabia did not reduce petroleum production in late 2014 or 2015, even as oil prices fell and global inventories of oil rose. As a result, Saudi Arabia's total petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production rose by 3% in 2015. Still, the United States produced more than twice the petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons as Saudi Arabia produced in 2015.
In the May Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), US petroleum and other liquid fuels production is expected to decline from 15.0 million bpd in 2015 to about 14.5 million bpd in both 2016 and 2017. STEO forecasts Russian liquid fuels production to remain at about 11.0 million bpd through 2017.
Edited from press release by Angharad Lock
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