NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. crude oil production is expected to rise by 1.49 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019 to average 12.45 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday, up from its previous forecast for a rise of 1.43 million bpd.
The EIA forecast output in 2020 will rise by 930,000 bpd to 13.38 million bpd, a bigger increase than it previously estimated.
The latest forecast puts the United States on track to reach the 13-million-bpd milestone in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The United States has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s biggest oil producer, thanks to a shale revolution.
“According to the May outlook, EIA still expects that the United States will begin exporting more petroleum and other liquids than it imports in the fourth quarter of 2019, continuing for the foreseeable future,” EIA Administrator Linda Capuano said in an email.
“The shift toward becoming a net petroleum and other liquids exporter marks a first for the United States since 1948,” Capuano said.
Still, production has slowed in recent months as a price crash in the fourth quarter forced U.S. producers to curb spending and cut back on drilling plans.
Even so, majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp are expanding in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, the biggest U.S. shale oil producing region.
Major oil companies plan to spend about 16 percent more in 2019 than they did last year on U.S. drilling and completions, while independent producers expect to spend about 11 percent less in 2019, financial services firm Cowen & Co said.
For 2019, the EIA forecast U.S. oil demand to rise by 250,000 bpd to 20.70 million bpd, down from 360,000 bpd in its previous estimate. The agency also estimates U.S. oil demand will rise by 280,000 bpd to 20.98 million bpd in 2020, up from a previous forecast of a 250,000 bpd increase.
Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by David Gregorio