Energy Future

Could shale help US beat Saudi Arabia as top oil producer?

The fracking revolution could open the way for the U.S. to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's number one oil producer, energy research provider Platts said in a report on Tuesday.

"Another clear theme this year remains the dramatic upheaval, and for most, growth, that the American shale-led boom continues to thrust on energy players," said analysts Robert Perkins and Henry Edwardes-Evans in Platts' annual report on the world's top 250 energy companies.

Pump jacks and wells on the Monterey Shale formation in California
David McNew / Stringer | Getty Images News

Extracting oil and gas from shale rock through hydraulic fracturing has transformed the U.S. energy industry, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration sees the country's shale oil production hitting 9.6 million barrels per day by 2019.

Fracking helped the U.S. to post the largest increase in oil production of any country in 2013, according to Platts. U.S. oil output jumping by over 1 million barrels per day, the largest annual increment in the country's history.

"The fracking revolution in the U.S. looks set to topple Saudi Arabia as the world's number one oil producer," wrote Perkins and Edwardes-Evans.

"The U.S. oil supply estimate excludes biofuels, which, when added to the total, are widely believed to place the U.S. as the world's biggest liquids producer above Saudi Arabia and Russia."

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U.S. companies filled 103 of the 250 top spots in Platts' energy firm ratings, which ranked companies by assets, revenues, profits and return on invested capital.

ExxonMobil retains pole position for the 10th year running, with its industry-leading return on capital holding off rivals. The Dow-listed supermajor entered the shale gas market in 2010 with its acquisition of XTO Energy.

BP was back in the top 10 in second place, as it slowly recovers from the massive hit from payouts for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Platts warned that BP's ratings bounce could prove brief, given the looming court battle to settle remaining liabilities in 2015.

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Another ratings climber was Rosneft, which climbed three positions to sixth place. This follows the Russian giant's $55 billion acquisition of TNK-BP, which puts it ahead of ExxonMobil in terms of production and reserves, but still behind in revenues, profits, assets and return on capital.

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