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US oil output to approach 9.6 million barrels per day by 2016

WASHINGTON--U.S. oil production will continue its surge to near the record 9.6 million barrels a day in 2016, the U.S. Energy Department said Monday in its annual forecast.

Riding the gains in production from “tight” oil — such as shale reserves tapped by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, U.S. crude output will add another 800,000 barrels a day over the next two years, the department's Energy Information Administration said.

After 2016, when production will be around the previous high set in 1970, oil output will stabilize and then begin tailing off beginning in 2020.

Natural gas production is expected to continue to surge mainly from fracking-based exploration, with the EIA predicting a rise of 56 percent between 2012 and 2040.

The forecast “shows that advanced technologies for crude oil and natural gas production are continuing to increase domestic supply and reshape the U.S. energy economy as well as expand the potential for U.S. natural gas exports,” EIA administrator Adam Sieminski said in a statement.

Growing U.S. domestic oil and gas production “is also reducing our net dependence on imported oil and benefiting the U.S. economy as natural gas-intensive industries boost their output,” he said.

The report projects improvement in the U.S. energy balance to an economy becoming gradually less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

U.S. oil production slipped as low as 5.1 million barrels a day in 2006, but topped 8 million in the first week of December.

U.S. use of imported energy is seen falling from 16 percent of total consumption in 2012 to 4 percent in 2040.

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This Aug. 21 file photo shows an oil well near Tioga, North Dakota. U.S. oil production will continue its surge to hit a record 9.6 million barrels a day in 2016, the U.S. Energy Department said on Monday, Dec. 16 in its annual forecast.


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