U.S. Oil Output Drop May Worsen 10-fold on Gulf Delay, IEA Says

The drop in U.S. oil output may worsen 10-fold through 2015 as projects are delayed because of the clamp down on offshore drilling after BP Plc’s crude spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the International Energy Agency said.

The Macondo spill, the largest in U.S. history, has “already shaved” off 30,000 barrels a day of estimated U.S. crude production in 2010 and 2011, Paris-based IEA said today in its monthly report. The reduction may expand to between 100,000 barrels and 300,000 barrels a day in 2015, it said.

U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar yesterday announced a revised policy for deepwater drilling, which may let some deepwater work resume earlier than the six-month pause ordered by President Barack Obama’s administration May 27. The new regulation may do little to restart projects, industry groups and analysts said.

“In practice, new deepwater drilling remains halted,” the IEA said. “The uncertainty surrounding the deepwater drilling moratorium begins to have an impact on new upstream projects.”

Regulations in the aftermath of the spill may delay global supply by 900,000 barrels a day by 2015, including 300,000 barrels a day from the Gulf of Mexico, Fatih Birol, the IEA chief economist, said last month.

The U.S. Energy Department July 7 forecast output reductions to average 31,000 barrels a day in the fourth quarter of this year and about 82,000 barrels a day in 2011.

Citigroup Inc. analyst Mark Fletcher said in May that U.S. Gulf production may be reduced by 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day this year, citing estimates from Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd.