Shale drilling helps boost U.S. oil output to record

WHEELING, W.Va. — Partially due to the condensate drillers are pumping from Marcellus and Utica shale wells, U.S. oil output grew at a faster rate in 2014 than in any year since officials began keeping records in 1900, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

“Now, you know why the price of oil has fallen,” Tim Carr, the Marshall Miller Professor of Geology at West Virginia University, said regarding the New York Mercantile Exchange crude price plummeting from about $100 per barrel in July to less than $48 per barrel Tuesday.

“This is changing the U.S. and global economic and geopolitical landscape,” Carr continued. “Most can be attributed to unconventional production, which I think the EIA did.”

The energy agency shows domestic oil yields grew by 1.2 million barrels per day to reach average daily output of 8.7 million barrels. U.S. crude production expanded for a sixth consecutive year in 2014, which follows a period from 1985-2008 in which yields dropped in all but one year.

In terms of pure crude, North Dakota’s Bakken shale and the Texas Eagle Ford shale are powering the increase. However, lease condensate drawn from some Marcellus and Utica shale operations is also playing a role.

Lease condensate is light liquid hydrocarbons recovered from lease operators or field facilities. The product normally enters the oil stream after production. Some drillers may haul the material from well sites via truck if no pipeline system is in place.

One of the largest oil companies in the world is Exxon Mobil Corp., which is the parent company of XTO Energy. The firm is drilling several wells in Belmont County, as there is now an active rig grinding into the ground behind the former Key Ridge School, outside Bellaire along Ohio 147.

Exxon is on track to increase daily production to 4.3 million barrels of oil-equivalent by 2017. This is an industry term to describe the energy value of the oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, even if not all of the material is chemically considered oil.

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