The ongoing shale oil boom continues to surprise even the experts.
When the U.S. Energy Information Administration released its 2013 Energy Outlook just three months ago, the government predicted domestic oil production would continue its shale-backed rally until 2019, when it would peak at 7.5 million barrels per day.
So much for that.
Domestic oil producers last month recovered about 8 million barrels per day as tight oil production continued to far outpace estimates, EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said last week at the University of Oklahoma Energy Symposium.
“This is changing very rapidly,” he said.
Even with the surging production, Sieminski and the EIA are reluctant to predict indefinite growth.
“Does this mean it will keep going up, or does it mean the resource base might not still be defined?” Sieminski asked. “I think the jury is still out, but there are a lot of smart people who believe these numbers will just keep going up.”
The EIA on Tuesday released its March 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook, which was revised to reflect higher-than-expected November and December numbers, but still does not match current production.
The revised forecast projects domestic crude production averaging 7.3 million barrels per day in 2013 and 7.9 million barrels per day in 2014.
The new number is 5 percent higher next year than the original forecast expected in six years, but it still lags what Sieminski said the country is producing today.
The faster-than-expected oil production increase also is leading to tumbling imports, reducing the country's dependence on oil from outside of North America.