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Permian Basin output to drive record-setting oil output for decades: US EIA

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Permian Basin output to drive record-setting oil output for decades: US EIA

Washington — Record-breaking US oil production is expected to continue for decades, driven largely by the Permian Basin, the US Energy Information Administration said in its Annual Energy Outlook Thursday.

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In the outlook's reference case, EIA forecasts US oil output, which averaged 10.93 million b/d in 2018, will climb to nearly 15 million b/d by 2027 before flattening out and falling below 12 million b/d by 2050.

But in its high oil and natural gas resource and technology case, the upper end of the EIA's forecast, the agency sees oil production climbing above 20 million b/d by 2040.

In its low oil price case, however, EIA forecasts US oil output will peak just below 13 million b/d within five years and gradually fall to about 8.3 million b/d by 2050.

"The size of resources and the pace of technology improvements to lower production costs translate directly to long-term total production," EIA said. "Much higher oil prices can boost near-term production, but cannot sustain the higher production pace."

Shale production in the Lower 48 states will account for nearly 70% of domestic production over the next three decades, according to the report.

The majority of the growth will take place in the Permian, according to Meg Coleman, leader of EIA's exploration and production team.

The report looked at potential oil and gas production in some areas being opened by the Trump administration, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where it sees some output coming online in the 2030s. But the EIA did not consider potential production from new offshore areas the administration is looking to open, particularly the Atlantic Ocean, Coleman said. The report forecasts that recent deepwater discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico will boost offshore output to 2.4 million b/d in 2022.

"Many of these discoveries resulted from exploration when oil prices were higher than $100/b before the oil price collapse in 2015 and are being developed as oil prices rise," EIA said. "Offshore production then declines through 2035 before flattening through 2050 as a result of new discoveries offsetting declines in legacy fields."

EIA forecasts that the US will become a net energy exporter in 2020 and remain so through at least 2050, due largely to rapid growth of domestic crude, gas and NGLs output and a slowdown in US consumption growth.

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The US, which becomes a net exporter of petroleum liquids after 2020, is forecast to return to being a net importer of petroleum and other liquids shortly before 2050 due to increased domestic gasoline consumption and declining oil production in the 2040s, EIA said.

--Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com