U.S. to Surpass Russia as Largest Oil and Gas Producer

The U.S. is on pace to top Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, another sign of the shale boom’s ripple effect on global energy markets.

Surging production of oil and natural gas has led a U.S. comeback in energy. Drilling at shale rock formations has tapped into previously unreachable oil and gas, boosting supplies and impacting a wide range of industries.

The U.S. already surpassed Russia in total production of natural gas, and China is expected to replace America as the world’s largest net importer of oil. U.S. imports of natural gas and crude oil have fallen 32% and 15%, respectively, over the last five years.

Now the U.S. is also poised to beat Russia in total production of oil and natural gas combined, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. In fact, it may have already happened.

In July, the U.S. produced the equivalent of roughly 22.2 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration and International Energy Agency.

Neither agency has data for Russia’s gas output, but based on the country’s forecast for 2013, combined production should be about 21.8 million barrels a day.

Last year, the U.S. produced more natural gas than Russia for the first time since 1982.

Russia does hold the potential for greater production. The country is believed to have one of the world’s largest oil-bearing shale formations.

But so far, Russia hasn’t embraced the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that has unleashed large supplies of oil and gas in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to hit production milestones amid rapid production at shale formations like North Dakota’s Bakken and Eagle Ford in Texas.

Based on the EIA’s short-term energy outlook, domestic oil production in August was at its highest daily output, 7.6 million barrels a day, since 1989. The agency anticipates further production growth, estimating daily production of 8.4 million barrels a day by the end of 2014.