Energy

Putting U.S. Energy Production in Perspective

"The increase in oil and gas production is equal to seven times the energy output of all domestic solar and wind."

Jordan Candler · May 22, 2018

As we previously reported, oil production in the U.S. is truly something to behold. It doesn’t get much attention, but in February the Energy Information Administration calculated that more than 10 million barrels’ worth of oil is generated every single day in the U.S. — a five-decade high. However, you might be wondering how oil and natural gas production together fare in comparison to some of the Left’s coveted renewable energy projects. In a recent op-ed, the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce provides the fascinating answer:

Over the past decade, merely the increase — I repeat, just the increase — in US oil and gas production is equal to seven times the total energy production of every wind turbine and solar project in the United States. … In 2008, US oil production was about 5.2 million barrels per day. Today, it’s about 10.2 million barrels per day. In 2008, domestic gas production averaged about 55.1 billion cubic feet per day. Today, it’s about 87.6 billion cubic feet per day. That’s an increase of about 32.5 billion cubic feet per day, which is equivalent to about 5.5 million barrels of oil per day. Thus, over the past decade, US oil and gas output has jumped by about 10.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Let’s compare that to domestic solar and wind production which, since 2008, has increased by 4,800 percent and 450 percent, respectively. While those percentage increases are impressive, the total energy produced from those sources remains small when compared to oil and gas. In 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration, US solar production totaled about 77 terawatt-hours and wind production totaled about 254 terawatt-hours, for a combined total of 331 terawatt-hours. That’s the equivalent of about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. Simple division (10.5 divided by 1.5) shows that since 2008, the increase in energy production from oil and gas is equal to seven times the energy output of all domestic solar and wind.

That’s an incredible statistic. Consider just how many billions of taxpayer dollars have been thrown at renewable energy projects, and then compare the relatively lackluster results with what the free market has accomplished on its own. As we opined in February, America’s robust energy production is emblematic of the positive developments that occur when onerous regulations are repealed and innovation takes hold. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that prices at the pump will reflect U.S. production. In New York, for example, some drivers are facing $5/gallon gas.

To help explain some of this discrepancy, our own Michael Swartz recently wrote, “While it isn’t as much of a factor on the supply side, OPEC can still be a price driver. In this case, both Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have put aside their foreign policy differences and enforced an 18-month-long production cut between themselves — a slowdown that has eliminated the supply glut (and low prices) we enjoyed over the last few years. And since those two nations are the second- and third-largest producers of crude oil (trailing only the U.S.), their coalition significantly influences the market.”

But if anything, this should actually encourage the U.S. to pursue oil and gas extraction to an even greater degree. The limit to what energy companies can do here in America has always been underappreciated, so providing a good environment for them to further flourish should be a high priority if our goal is genuine energy independence. The less we have to worry about what OPEC is doing behind the scenes, the better off consumers — and our national security — will be. Based on the numbers alone, wind and solar energy production aren’t going to get us there.

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