Total US energy production increases by 31% from 2017
through 2050 in the reference case, led by increases in the
production of renewables other than hydropower, natural
gas, and crude oil, the US Energy Information Administration’s latest annual energy outlook suggested.
The reference case projection assumes trend improvement in known technologies along with a view of economic
and demographic trends reflecting the current views of leading economic forecasts and demographers.
In the reference case, from 2017-50, projected gross domestic product rises at a rate of 2%/year, while projected
energy consumption increases at 0.4%/year and surpasses
its 2007 peak by 2033.
Crude oil, NGLs
In the reference case, US crude oil production in 2018 is
projected to surpass the record of 9. 6 million b/d set in 1970
and will continue to rise as producers increase output because of the combined effects of rising prices and production
Despite rising oil prices, reference case US crude oil production levels off at 11-12 million b/d as tight oil development moves into less productive areas and as well productivity declines.
Previously announced deepwater discoveries in the Gulf
of Mexico lead to increases in Lower 48 offshore production through 2021. In the reference case, offshore production
then declines through 2035 and remains flat through 2050
as discoveries offset production declines in legacy fields.
Lower 48 onshore tight oil development continues to be
the main driver of total US crude oil production, accounting
for about 65% of cumulative production in the reference case
over the 2017-50 projection period.
Growth in Lower 48 onshore crude oil production occurs
mainly in the Permian basin in the US Southwest. This basin
includes many prolific tight oil plays with multiple layers,
including Bone Spring, Spraberry, and Wolfcamp, making it
one of the lower-cost areas to develop.
Production growth in the Dakotas and Rocky Mountains
region is driven by increases in production from the Bakken
and Niobrara tight oil plays.
Production in the Gulf Coast region increases through
2025 before flattening out as drilling in the Eagle Ford be-
comes less productive.
With continued development of tight oil and shale gas re-
sources, natural gas plant liquids production reaches 5 mil-
lion b/d in 2023, nearly 35% above the 2017 level.
The shares of NGL components in the reference case are
relatively stable over the entire projection period, with ethane and propane contributing about 44% and 30%, respectively, to the total volume. By 2050, the East and Southwest
account for more than 60% of total US NGL production.
Natural gas production in the reference case rises 6%/year
during 2017-20, which is greater than the 4%/year average
growth rate during 2005-15. However, after 2020, it slows to
less than 1%/year for the remainder of the projection period.
Natural gas production from shale gas and tight oil plays
as a share of total US gas production is projected to continue to rise in both share and absolute volume because of
the large size of the associated resources, which extend over
more than 500,000 sq miles.
Offshore natural gas production in the US stays nearly
flat over the projection period as production from discoveries generally offsets declines in legacy fields.
Production of coalbed methane gas generally continues
to decline through 2050 because of unfavorable economic
conditions for producing that resource.
The industrial sector is the largest consumer of gas in the
reference case. Major gas consumers in this sector include
the chemical industry (where gas is used as a feedstock in
the production of methanol and ammonia), industrial heat
and power, and LNG export facilities.
EIA AEO: Total US energy production
rises 31% from 2017 to 2050