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Business

March 3, 2013

'Saudi Texas' leads boom in US oil production

WASHINGTON — U.S. oil production has soared to heights not seen in 20 years, largely driven by an explosion in crude harvested from Texas shale rock.

America is producing more than 7 million barrels of oil a day, the highest volume since 1992, according to figures released last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It’s another sign of the transformation of American energy, as the nation is forecast to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer in just a few years.

Texas and North Dakota are the dominant states behind the increase in oil production, with crude from the Bakken formation of North Dakota transforming that state and allowing it to pass Alaska as the nation’s second leading oil producer.

Texas, meanwhile, has doubled its crude production since January 2010 and is by far the U.S. oil king.

Its boom is mostly because of the Eagle Ford shale region in south Texas, said Philip Budzik, an analyst with the Energy Information Administration. The energy revolution there and in North Dakota is a result of horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing, in which high-pressure water and chemicals are injected underground to free up pockets of oil in shale rock.

Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint and a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, said Texas has become “Saudi Texas.”

“It’s kind of mind-boggling how big the increase is and how fast it’s happened,” Perry said in an interview.

Texas now produces almost three times as much crude oil as the second-place state, North Dakota. Texas alone has accounted for nearly a third of U.S. oil output in the past six months, according to Perry. If Texas were a separate country, he said, it would rank above oil-rich Norway as the 14th largest oil-producing nation in the world.

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