U.S. crude oil production approaches pre-pandemic levels

(The Center Square) — For the first two months of 2023, production of crude oil in the U.S. neared pre-COVID levels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The production of crude oil in the U.S. in January and February was the most since March 2020 when the pandemic hit.

The U.S. produced 12.54 million barrels of crude oil per day in January and 12.48 million barrels per day in February. That represented the highest levels since 12.80 million barrels per day in March 2020.

U.S. production of crude oil dropped to a low of 9.71 million barrels per day in May 2020 during the pandemic, when many states issued stay-at-home orders. U.S. oil production didn’t top 12 million barrels per day again until August 2022.

Some gas analysts said gas prices could go down as the U.S. increases its production of crude oil. Regular gas sold at $3.561 per gallon on average in the U.S. as of May 5, according to AAA. That’s down from the $4.247-a-gallon gas cost a year ago. Gas sold for $3.627-a-gallon a week ago.

“Increased production has historically helped put downward pressure on prices at the pump,” Scott Lauermann, media contact for the American Petroleum Institute, said in an email to The Center Square. “Since early 2020, the U.S. oil industry has continued to grow domestic crude oil production, but remains more than 500,000 barrels per day below pre-pandemic levels, primarily because of government policies, workforce and supply chain limitations, and a chilled investment landscape.”

Andrew Gross, spokesperson for AAA, said the country may see gas prices in more places around the country go below $3 per gallon.

“While US oil production may provide some good news, oil is a global commodity, so we need to look at production elsewhere too,” Gross said in an email to The Center Square. “Fortunately, demand for domestic gasoline is down, as is the price of oil. These factors are helping drive pump prices lower for now. We will likely see more locations nationwide selling sub $3 per gallon for regular. The next possible hurdle will be hurricane season.

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