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News : US Economy Last Updated: Jun 13, 2013 - 9:36 AM


Largest rise in US oil production ever recorded, in 2012
By Finfacts Team
Jun 13, 2013 - 8:25 AM

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US crude oil production grew by more than 1m barrels a day in 2012, the largest increase in the world and the largest ever recorded in the US.

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013 - - the 62nd annual report - - which was launched on Wednesday, says the US recorded the world’s highest growth in production of both oil and natural gas in 2012, on the back of increasing production of unconventional hydrocarbons such as tight oil, an example of the increasing diversity of energy sources as the global market continues to adapt, innovate and evolve.

With rising natural gas output driving prices lower in the US, natural gas displaced coal in power generation, causing the US to experience the largest decline of coal consumption in the world.

"The growth in US output was a major factor in keeping oil prices from rising sharply, despite a second consecutive year of large oil supply disruptions," said BP chief executive Bob Dudley.

In volume terms, last year's US production rise of 1.04m barrels a day surpassed the earlier biggest annual increase of 640,000 barrels per day, recorded in 1967.

Most of this new production comes from shale-rock formations, such as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas. The development of hydraulic drilling over the past 40 years, known as fracking, has resulted in drillers in recent times being able to get access to previously trapped oils and gas.

Elsewhere, oil production increased almost 7% in Canada, raising North America's position as a global oil producer and 2012 saw the largest annual decline in world nuclear output. In Japan, where nuclear power generation all but disappeared after 2011’s Fukushima accident, higher imports of fossil fuels including liquefied natural gas (LNG) ‘kept the lights on’. In Europe, where gas prices were higher than in the US, power generators took the opposite course from the US, and substituted coal for gas.

The Review also revealed a drop in the growth of overall global energy consumption to 1.8% in 2012, down from 2.4% the previous year. This was partly as a result of the economic slowdown, but also because individuals and businesses responded to high prices by becoming more efficient in their use of energy. The emerging economies - the non-OECD countries - firmly established themselves as the source of what demand growth was seen, with China and India alone accounting for nearly 90% of the increase. Just twenty years ago, the emerging economies accounted for only 42% of global consumption; now that figure is 56%.

Coal remained the fastest-growing fossil fuel, with China now consuming the majority of the world’s coal for the first time - - but it was also the fossil fuel that saw the weakest growth relative to its historical average.

Hydroelectric and renewable energy (along with cheap natural gas in North America) competed against coal in power generation. Global biofuels output fell for the first time since 2000 due to weakness in the US, but renewables in power generation grew by 15.2% and accounted for a record 4.7% of global power output.

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use continued to grow in 2012, but at a slower rate than in 2011. Lower coal use helped the US reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide to 1994 levels, and EU emissions declined despite coal gaining market share from natural gas in power generation.

“2012 was yet another year of adaptation to a changing energy landscape,” said Christof Rühl, BP’s chief economist. “As the non-OECD economies industrialize, they unlock ever more resources. The data tell us that the industrializing part of the world not only outpaces the OECD in terms of proved reserves growth, it also contributes its fair share to energy production.”

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