U.S. crude oil production exceeded imports in October for the first month since February 1995, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
Output averaged 7.74 million barrels a day, the Energy Department’s statistical unit said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook. Crude oil net imports were 7.57 million, down from 7.92 million the previous month.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have unlocked supplies in shale formations in North Dakota, Texas and other states. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, has dropped to below $95 from above $110 in September as domestic output reached a 24-year high.
“It’s something we’ve been forecasting since earlier this year,” said Tancred Lidderdale, an economist with the EIA in Washington who helped write the report. “Crude-oil production from shale-oil has been steadily growing over the last few years and it’s expected to continue to grow.”
For the year, production will reach 7.49 million barrels a day, the EIA forecast, 20,000 barrels lower than imports. Output will reach 8.49 million in 2014 as imports drop to 6.54 million.
The EIA lowered its WTI price forecast to $97.74 a barrel this year from last month’s projection of $98.69. The U.S. benchmark grade will average $95 in 2014 versus last month’s estimate of $96.21.
Brent, used to price more than half of world oil trade, will average $108.01 this year and $103 in 2014, up from October estimates of $107.96 and $102.21.
Liquid fuel production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will decline by 800,000 barrels a day to 35.9 million in 2013 and stay near that level in 2014, the EIA said. The agency reduced its global oil-consumption forecast for this year to 90.25 million barrels a day from 90.26 million estimated last month. The 2014 forecast is 91.39 million versus the previous 91.43 million.
Retail gasoline in the U.S. will average $3.50 a gallon this year, down from last month’s estimate of $3.52. The 2014 forecast is $3.39.
WTI futures gained 84 cents, or 0.9 percent, to end today at $93.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell to $93.04 a barrel on Nov. 12, the lowest settlement since May 31.
“The EIA expects that falling crude oil prices and a well-supplied gasoline market will help drive U.S. retail gasoline prices down further for the remainder of the year,” Adam Sieminski, the administrator of the EIA, said in a statement.
Brent futures advanced $1.31, or 1.2 percent, to $107.12 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent’s premium to WTI widened to $13.24.
The Brent premium will average $10 a barrel during the fourth quarter and $8 during 2014, the EIA said.