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Fitch projects 9.4% growth in US oil liquids production in 2019

Fitch Solutions said March 20 that it expects U.S. production of crude oil, natural gas plant liquids and other liquids will average 18.09 million barrels per day this year, topping 16.54 million bbl/d in 2018 by 9.4%, a slow down from the 15.7% year-over-year growth seen in 2018. Crude oil production alone is projected to grow by 1.3 million bbl/d from a year ago.

The rating agency sees West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices averaging $67 per barrel in 2019, above the March 21 settlement price of $59.98/bbl.

Dry natural gas production is seen reaching 915.6 billion cubic meters in 2019, up from 861.3 billion cubic meters a year earlier by 6.3%. Consumption is forecast to average 881.9 billion cubic meters, topping 848 billion cubic meters in 2018.

Production for refined products is estimated to average 20.16 million bbl/d in 2019, from 20.05 million bbl/d a year earlier, while consumption, including for ethanol, is expected to average 21.49 million bbl/d, up slightly from 21.41 million bbl/d in 2018.

In general, production and consumption of crude, natural gas plant liquids and dry natural gas production are expected to rise until 2023. However, consumption for refined products and ethanol are forecast to decline starting in 2021, while production is estimated to fall starting in 2023.

Fitch Solutions said the U.S. will lead gains in non-OPEC crude oil production as crude prices improve, while gas production is expected to increase due to higher capacity from LNG export facilities and petrochemical plants.

Consumption will decline over the next decade due to efficiency, Fitch said

Producers are expected to move away from drilling mature assets or low-yielding wells in tight formations and pursue core acreage.

Fitch said production from the Permian Basin will rise by another 800,000 bbl/d this year, while the Bakken formation will only add about 200,000 bbl/d. The shale sector is also expected to surpass 8 million bbl/d in 2019 due to the gains that represent a 15.7% increase from 2018.