The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday that the U.S. likely surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia earlier this year to become the world’s top crude oil producer. The EIA based its disclosure on preliminary estimates in its Short-Term Energy Outlook which is released every month.
The U.S., in news that was widely covered by media at the time, bypassed Saudi Arabia in February to become the second largest global oil producer, the EIA says. It was the first time in more than 20 years that the U.S. out produced Saudi Arabia. Then in June and August, U.S. output bypassed Russia for the first time since February 1999.
The EIA expects that U.S. crude oil production, most of it light sweet crude, will continue to exceed Russian and Saudi Arabian crude oil production for the remaining months of 2018 and through 2019.
The EIA disclosure comes as oil markets are trying to make sense out of both supply and demand questions as well as geopolitical uncertainty. Since President Trump decided in May to reimpose sanctions against Iran over its nuclear development program, uncertainty has seized the market. The first row of new sanctions against Iran were put in place in August, while more hard-hitting sanctions against the country’s energy sector will take effect on November 4.
With the prospect of as many as 1-2 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian barrels being removed from global markets, both Saudi Arabia, likely bowing to pressure from Trump, and also Russia, have already pledged to increase output to keep a ceiling on prices. This uncertainty comes as crucial mid-term congressional elections, slated for November, approach. The concern for Trump and Republican candidates has been higher global oil prices and higher gasoline prices hitting voters in the pocket book and possibly causing voter backlash at the polls.
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