U.S. Crude Production Jumps to Highest Level Since 1988

U.S. crude-oil production rose to the highest level in almost 26 years last week as imports declined, the Energy Information Administration reported.

Output increased 33,000 barrels a day in the week ended March 14, or 0.4 percent, to 8.215 million, the most since May 1988, said the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. Production has jumped 15 percent from a year earlier as a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, unlocked supplies trapped in shale formations in North America.

“Shale crude is really a great bright spot,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “We are going to see more oil production in the U.S. and less imports.”

Crude imports fell to 7.192 million barrels a day in the four weeks ended March 14, the lowest level since January 1997, according to EIA data. The U.S. met 86 percent of its energy needs in the first 11 months of 2013, the highest level since 1986, EIA data show.

Production will rise to 9.16 million barrels a day next year, the EIA forecast in its monthly report on March 11. The record is 9.6 million in 1970.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 17 cents to $99.87 a barrel at 11:48 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have climbed 1.5 percent this year.