Welcome to 'Saudi Texas'

Fracking could mean the Lone Star State surpasses Kuwait and the UAE in oil production.


If Texas was an independent country, it would rank 10th overall in oil production.

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To fully appreciate what many of us may simply take for granted — that the Lone Star state produces oil as easily as McDonald’s produces hamburgers — it sometimes helps to look elsewhere to appreciate the actual scale by which we should view such things.

The Associated Press reported this month that North Dakota produced 313 million barrels of oil in 2013, a record amount, and about 70 million more than it produced in 2012. For North Dakota, that’s six consecutive years of record oil production. State data shows that the 185 oil rigs working there now double the amount from four years ago. And you’ve certainly heard about the economic boom and jobs growth that has drawn thousands from all across the country seeking their fortune.

[See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

But when your attention is drawn to the Texas oil boom, that discussion takes place on another plane because of the previously inaccessible shale wealth that transforms state economies via fracking. Jonathan Cogan of the Energy Information Administration noted this week that production in the Eagle Ford formation in South Texas reached 1.2 million barrels per day in December. Additionally, production from the Permian Basin averaged 1.3 million bpd and is projected to grow more than any other U.S. region through 2015.

If Texas was an independent country, it would rank 10th overall in production, according to the American Enterprise Institute. Texas production could surpass 3 million barrels per day in 2014 and reach 4 million barrels per day by 2015.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.]

With these numbers, the Lone Star State could surpass Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to reach the number eight spot by the end of next year and could surpass Iraq, Iran and even Canada. The state says it derives one-third of its economy and 2.1 million jobs from the oil and gas industry.  

Of course, we shouldn’t forget something we discussed back in December. As extraordinary as the resources are with which Texas has been blessed, California’s Monterey shale accounts for two-thirds of the nation’s estimated shale oil reserves, about 15.4 billion barrels. That’s billion with a big ‘B’.