U.S. expects record domestic oil production in 2019, 2020

The United States expects domestic oil production to reach new heights this year and next, and that prices—for both crude and gasoline—will be lower than they were in 2018.

Government forecasters are sticking to their forecast that the United States—already the world's biggest oil producer—will become a net exporter of crude and petroleum products in 2020.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday that it expects the United States to pump 12.4 million barrels of crude a day in 2019 and 13.2 million barrels a day in 2020. The January average was 12 million barrels a day, up 90,000 from December.

Most of the increase is expected to come from the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, where production has been booming for several years as operators use hydraulic fracturing and other techniques to squeeze more oil and gas from shale formations.

"The U.S. energy industry continues to transform itself," said Linda Capuano, administrator of the agency, which is part of the Energy Department.

The agency expects U.S. benchmark crude to average $54.79 a barrel this year and $58 next year, down from $65 in 2018. It expects internationally traded oil to average $61 a barrel this year and $62 next year, down from $71 in 2018.

The 2020 price forecast is $3 a barrel lower than the agency had previously predicted. Capuano said strong growth in oil production worldwide would push prices lower.

That should produce nationwide average gasoline prices of $2.47 a gallon this year and $2.56 next year, down from $2.73 in 2018, according to the agency's short-term energy outlook.

Oil prices tumbled in the last three months of 2018 on forecasts that global economic growth will weaken and hurt demand at the same time that production is surging in the U.S.

Concern about oversupply led OPEC and allies including Russia to agree in December to limit output during the first half of 2019. On Tuesday, OPEC reported that its member nations sharply reduced production in January.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries—which accounts for about one-third of global supply—said January output fell nearly 800,000 barrels a day compared with December, to 30.8 million barrels a day.

Nearly half the OPEC cuts were borne by cartel leader Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Production in Iran, which the Trump administration targeted for renewed sanctions on oil exports, was little changed from December.

Russia's supply edged lower by 90,000 barrels a day in January, to less than 11.6 million barrels a day, according to the OPEC report. Russia's production has been running at post-Soviet records.

Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday.

With rising production in the Permian Basin, the Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. net imports of crude and petroleum products fell from 3.8 million barrels a day in 2017 to 2.4 million barrels a day in 2018.

The agency forecast that net imports will decline to about 900,000 barrels a day this year, then turn into a net export of about 300,000 barrels a day in 2020, including 1.1 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The price of natural gas, an important fuel in power generation and home heating, is expected to rise 4 percent through 2020.

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