The ongoing surge in domestic oil and gas production continues to outpace gains made by wind and solar-based energy developments, despite calls from certain factions to break America’s oil addiction and build a fossil fuel-free economy. These were the findings of Robert Bryce, senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial.
Bryce based his comments on new data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that since early 2014, oil production has grown from 1.5 million b/d to more than 4 million b/d in the Permian basin alone. Gas production in the basin over the same time period has nearly tripled—from about 5 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) to nearly 14 billion bcf/d. Factoring in increased production from other US shale plays like the Haynesville, Utica and Marcellus, total US oil and gas production has climbed by roughly 5.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in the past five years.
An examination of solar and wind output shows that the results aren’t even close. Bryce points to 2018 statistics by BP stating that all US solar projects produced roughly 441,000 boed while domestic wind production generated 1.3 million boed. Increased Permian production over the past five years was equal to nearly 12 times the annual output of these renewable sources.
Meanwhile, declining policy support for electric vehicles (EVs) in key global markets—the US and China in particular—is expected to soften EV sales compared to conventional, fossil fuel-powered vehicles. As a result, agencies like the EIA and International Energy Agency are expected to ratchet up their oil demand projections and adjust their peak oil demand projections farther out into the future (current forecasts put the peak sometime within the next 10 to 15 years).
Developments such as these underlie the endurance of oil demand in the global market. And while renewables’ contribution to the global energy generation landscape will continue to grow, oil and gas will likely remain the dominant energy source for decades.
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