Fuel Smarts

DOE Predicts Growth in U.S. Energy Production to Outpace Consumption Growth

December 06, 2012

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The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration projects that under current policies, crude oil production in the U.S. will rise sharply over the next decade, while gasoline and petroleum-based diesel use will fall.


The Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013) Reference case presents updated projections for U.S. energy markets through 2040. These projections include only the effects of policies that have been implemented in law or final regulations.

It projects that crude oil production, particularly from tight oil plays, will rise sharply over the next decade, with an annual growth averaging 234 thousand barrels per day from 2011 through 2019. The growth would result largely from a significant increase in onshore crude oil production, particularly from shale and other tight formations.

After about 2020, the projection predicts that production will begin declining gradually, as producers develop sweet spots first and then move to less productive or less profitable drilling areas.

Gasoline consumption is lower in this projection than last year's, reflecting the introduction of more stringent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard.

Projected growth in diesel fuel consumption is moderated by increased use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles. The use of petroleum-based diesel fuel is also expected to be reduced because of the increased use of diesel produced using gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology.

In this projection, the United States becomes a larger exporter of natural gas than in last year's projection. Unlike the crude oil projections, U.S. natural gas production increases throughout the projection period, outpacing domestic consumption by 2020 and spurring net exports of natural gas. It also projects that U.S. exports of LNG will be double the amount projected in last year's report, with the United States becoming a net exporter of LNG in 2016.

In this projection, the Brent spot crude oil price declines from $111 per barrel (in 2011 dollars) in 2011 to $96 per barrel in 2015. After 2015, the Brent price is projected to increase, reaching $163 per barrel in 2040, as growing demand leads to the development of more costly resources.

The EIA projects that globally, liquid fuels consumption will grow from 88 million bpd in 2011 to 113 million bpd in 2040, driven by demand in China, India, Brazil, and other developing economies.

The Reference case projections from the Early Release Overview of the AEO2013 are available at http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/.

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