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Report offers more good energy news

In September, the United States became a net exporter of petroleum for the first time since the Energy Information Administration began keeping track in 1949. The EIA offers more good news today: This trend doesn’t look to change any time soon.

In its latest short-term energy outlook, issued in late January, the EIA said net U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum product fell to an average of 500,000 barrels per day in 2019, compared with 2.3 million barrels per day in 2018.

The United States, the agency estimates, “will be a net exporter of total crude oil and petroleum products by 800,000 barrels per day in 2020 and by 1.4 million barrels per day in 2021.” This bolsters the country’s national security by making the United States less reliant on product from OPEC.

The EIA estimates that annual average U.S. crude production reached 12.2 million barrels per day in 2019, a record sum and an increase of 1.3 million barrels per day in 2018. Crude oil production is expected to average 13.3 million barrels per day this year and climb to 13.7 million per day in 2021.

As The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth wrote recently, this growing output is the result of continuing efficiencies in the oil patch. Although fewer rigs are drilling, initial production and total production from each well are increasing.

“More effective drilling techniques, including the increasing prevalence of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have helped to increase these initial production rates,” the EIA reported.

The agency said it expects the decline in drilling rigs to continue into this year and next. However, despite that expected decline, “EIA forecasts production will continue to grow as rig efficiency and well-level productivity rises.” Amen to that.

The forecast is sure to be lamented by green energy activists (and several Democratic presidential candidates) who want to ban fracking in lieu of an all-renewables energy portfolio. Perhaps they’ll take solace in another finding by the EIA: U.S. carbon dioxide emissions continue to fall.

Those emissions in 2019 were at 1992 levels. Energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 2.1% in 2019, the EIA said, and it expects emissions will decline by another 2% this year and by 1.5% in 2021. “Declining emissions reflect forecast declines in total U.S. energy consumption combined with assumptions of relatively normal weather,” the agency said.

It noted that CO2 emissions “are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, energy prices, and fuel mix.” One fuel that’s less and less a part of the mix is coal, which not many years ago was the nation’s No. 1 electricity producer. Today it provides 27%, and the EIA forecasts coal production to drop 19% this year compared with 2019, then decline another 3% in 2021.

Why? Reduced demand here and overseas, as natural gas and renewables largely take up the slack.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›