The United States continued its "relentless rise" in crude oil production in 2013, exceeding even the most bullish of expectations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported on Tuesday.
As the U.S. looks toward a future of energy independence, the IEA noted that U.S. crude output for 2013 outstripped its projections from a year ago by around 455 kb/d, and noted that "U.S. crude oil supply in 2013 registered the fastest absolute annual supply growth of any country in the last two decades, rising 15 percent in 2013."
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This helped blunt the impact of supply declines elsewhere, notably Libya and Iran,
The findings from the IEA mirror those of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in December, when the organization said that the U.S. will continue to produce copious amounts of oil and natural gas through at least 2016, with natural gas production likely to spike for the next two decades at a minimum.
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Many experts now forecast the U.S. becoming completely energy independent by 2020, although the IEA raised the issue of the looming crude 'wall,' the point at which regulations would limit the U.S. market's capacity to absorb production growth. For example, the U.S. ban on exports of crude oil to countries other than Canada could have an impact on growth in production.
The IEA wrote that "potential U.S. growth in 2014 seems a given" and that "if this year has any surprises in stock, they are more likely to come from the demand side, and from supply developments in the ever‐volatile MENA region."
There was, however, a rising tide of technical and political debate about whether – or when – the U.S. market may run out of options to accommodate further gains without regulatory adjustments, the report said.
More generally, the IEA estimate of global oil demand for the fourth quarter of 2013 was raised by 135kb/d on strong U.S. deliveries, partly offset by curtailments in China and elsewhere. For 2013 as a whole, growth is estimated at around 1.2 mb/d, rising to 1.3 mb/d in 2014.