The production of oil and gas from unconventional geologic formations (generally called shale oil and gas) has lifted the U.S. into the world’s largest oil and gas producer. In the midst of the Covid pandemic and the associated worldwide government initiatives to lockdown large segments of the world’s economies, petroleum demand cratered. Analysts, academic researchers, and a large number of commentators viewed the reduction of petroleum demand accompanying the pandemic as a signal that a sustained decline in oil demand had finally arrived. But pandemics have a tendency to return to trend once infections run their course. According to the International Energy Forum (IEF), and referencing the authoritative Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), world oil demand rose in December 2022 (year-over-year) by 1.3 million barrels per day (mb/d). The most recent forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) points to rising petroleum requirements worldwide. The agency expects global liquid fuels consumption to increase by 1.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2023 from 2022 and by an additional 1.8 million b/d in 2024.
So does the U.S. have the capacity to raise domestic oil production to remain an important force in the global market? In this paper, Trisha Curtis, CEO of the PetroNerds consultancy and an EPRINC Distinguished Fellow, takes a deep dive into the unconventional petroleum space and examines its capacity to sustain the U.S. as a world leader in oil and gas production.