US monthly oil production climbs to 14-year high


WASHINGTON -- US crude-oil production reached its highest level in nearly 15 years in September, thanks in large part to the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, the US Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

Average daily production reached 6.5 million bbl, the EIA said, an increase of about 900,000 bbl since September of last year.

Such statistics reflect the US's growing role as a dominant energy producer. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency said the US could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020 - a trend that would transform global energy markets as well as international politics.

The EIA is slated to come out with an early draft of its annual report this week.

The revolution in US energy production is due mostly to the controversial drilling method known as "fracking." When coupled with horizontal drilling techniques, fracking has allowed energy companies to tap into shale formations and release pockets of oil and natural gas that were previously thought to be unreachable.

Lingering concerns over the drilling technique's safety, especially with regard to its impact on drinking water, have prompted regulators to consider drilling guidelines.

The degree to which the Obama administration can be credited for recent production surge is often debated. Republicans say the bulk of production increases take place on private and state-owned lands where the federal government has no control.

President Barack Obama has said he welcomes increased oil and natural-gas production, embracing what is known as an "all of the above" approach to energy use and production.

The last time US production reached 6.5 million bbl was in January 1998, the EIA said. This time around, the states with the largest increases were Texas and North Dakota, where the Bakken and Eagle Ford formations are.

The statistics on September were first released Thursday in a petroleum-supply report.

Dow Jones Newswires

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