A pump jack at sunrise in the Permian Basin (Tom Michael / Marfa Public Radio)
Fracking technology is the reason oil production in the Permian Basin is way up.
The U.S. could soon surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil production. And that’s thanks in large part to Texas and, more specifically, the Permian Basin. For now, the U.S. is still at number three in the world in oil production.
Dallas Morning News energy and environment reporter Jeff Mosier says the U.S. oil boom is largely the result of fracking, both in North Dakota’s Bakken Range and in the Permian Basin.
“About a decade ago we were kind of in the second tier of oil producers,” Mosier says. “We still produced a lot but [were] kind of down with the other guys. And now we are just knocking on the door of Saudi Arabia and Russia.”
Mosier says the increase in U.S. production doesn’t come just from more efficient extraction, but also from exploitation of new resources.
Though increased production alone has meant that more of the energy used in the U.S. is produced here, we still import oil. The U.S. even imports some oil that is then refined and shipped overseas again, in the form of gasoline, Mosier says. He says the U.S. could become a net oil exporter within a few years.
Another reason the U.S. is approaching world production leadership is that OPEC has slowed its production.
“There’s no doubt that plays a role – that they have put their foot on the brakes to a great degree and that allowed U.S. producers to kind of take off and get that market share. Because we don’t have OPEC, we don’t have anything except for the market holding us back. And as the prices rise a little bit, OPEC certainly likes that but it also encourages U.S. producers to get out to the Permian Basin and draw more wells and produce more,” Mosier says.
For consumers, Mosier says, more production in the U.S. creates “a pressure valve on prices,” keeping them from spiking.
Written by César Lopez-Linares & Shelly Brisbin.