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January 12, 2022

US oil industry anticipated to boom, despite Biden’s climate push

Government body predictions show the industry is set for a record year after pandemic lows, challenging climate ambitions.

By Scarlett Evans

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released its predictions for this year’s US oil production, with the government agency projecting the industry will surpass pre-pandemic numbers despite the Biden administration’s pledge to transition the country away from fossil fuels.   

According to the report, oil production will reach a new high of 12.4 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2023, up from the previous record of 12.3mbpd seen in 2019. Gas production is also set to see a record year, with the EIA forecasting that US natural gas output will overtake Australia and Qatar to place it as the number one exporter of this resource.  

Petroleum and fuel consumption in the US is similarly expected to rise, with the EIA estimates showing that this will average 20.6mbpd in 2022 and 20.9mbpd in 2023, with this rise driven by an increased uptake of hydrocarbon gas liquids.  

Despite these increases, emissions will remain below 2019 levels, with anticipated increases of 1.8% in 2022 and 0.5% in 2023, bringing total emissions to 4.97 million metric tonnes. 

The predictions sit in direct contrast to the previously dire state of the nation’s industry, with pandemic-related economic impacts leading to the widespread sentiment that the sector was in a trough it would not recover from.  

The news also puts the Biden administration’s ambitious environmental agenda in a tough spot, showing how far the nation is from achieving the government’s commitments. Biden has faced mounting pressure to make good on his climate agenda, which promises net zero emissions by 2050 and federal investment into clean energy technologies worth $1.7trn. 

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Despite these commitments, there has been a continued reliance on the oil and gas industry for revenue, with the government opening up 80 million acres of land in the Gulf of Mexico in November last year for oil and gas exploration. The record-breaking offshore lease sale came mere days after Biden’s pledge to curb emissions at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where he said that the US would “lead by example” in the push to drive down global temperatures. 

When asked about the government’s lack of agenda just before COP26, Democrat senator Sheldon Whitehouse told the Guardian. “It would be bad for US leadership, bad for the talks, and disastrous for the climate. Just disastrous. The vast majority of Senate Democrats understand this is our last chance to act.” 

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