America’s top 5 oil-producing states

1) Texas

Texas is the U.S. top producer of crude oil and natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state’s oil production increased by more than 500,000 barrels a day in the year to September.

The increase was mostly thanks to production in two formations, Eagle Ford in South Texas and the Permian Basin in West Texas.

In September, Texas crude-oil production hit 2 million barrels per day. Total production in 2011 was 1.5 million barrels per day, from facilities such as the refinery in Texas City, pictured at left.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the U.S. monthly crude-oil production was at the highest level since 1998, averaging 6.5 million barrels per day in September.

Our ranking excludes U.S. offshore production. Wells off the coast of Gulf states produced 1.16 million barrels per day in September. Offshore production off the coast of California and Alaska hit 56,000 barrels per day in September.

2) North Dakota

North Dakota produced 728,000 barrels of oil a day in September, the EIA has said.

The state’s oil production increased by more than 250,000 barrels per day in the year to September, from wells like the one at a site near Tioga, N.D., pictured at left.

Most of that increase came from the Bakken formation in the Williston basin, where crude-oil production started to pick up in early 2007. The Bakken accounts for 90% of North Dakota’s total oil production.

The formation straddles North Dakota and parts of Montana and Canada’s Saskatchewan province. Oil was first found in the Bakken in the early 1950s, but it had been slow going until more recent technology, including the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to coax the oil out of rock.

3) California

California gets the No. 3 spot in U.S. oil production, with 524,000 barrels of oil a day in September, according to the EIA. California also ranks third in refining capacity, able to churn out 2 million barrels per day out of its 20 operable refineries, one of which is BP’s Carson refinery in Carson.

Despite its key role in oil producing and refining, California’s gasoline retail price is one of the highest in the nation.

Travel and leisure group AAA on Friday said a gallon of regular gasoline cost on average $3.61 in California, compared with a national average of $3.31. Prices are expected to fall in the next few days, however, and are down more than 20 cents in a month

4) Alaska

Alaska production has been declining since a peak in the late 1980s. The state produced 502,000 barrels a day in September, nearly all from its North Slope fields.

Production in Alaska peaked in 1988 with an average annual production of 2 million barrels a day.

Alaska’s oil is carried to market through the TransAlaska Pipeline System, or TAPS.

North Slope oil production is at risk beyond 2025 if oil prices drop sharply, the EIA has said.

That’s because the TAPS needs to maintain minimum flows to keep operating, and its projected lifetime depends on continued investment in North Slope oil production, which in turn depends on future oil prices.

North Slope production would cease and TAPS would be decommissioned as early as 2026 if oil prices were to go too low

5) Oklahoma

Oklahoma produced 250,000 barrels of oil in September, ranking fifth in the nation, according to the EIA. Oklahoma is fourth in natural-gas production.

It’s in Cushing, Okla., the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline, that New York-traded benchmark West Texas Intermediate prices are settled.

A glut of oil in Cushing has been partly blamed for the lower prices WTI has fetched compared with Europe’s benchmark, Brent oil, and the diminishing role WTI prices have played in international oil markets.

New Mexico, Louisiana, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado round up the top 10 states in oil production. Production increases in these smaller-volume states have also contributed to the rise in domestic crude-oil production, the EIA said.

U.S. oil output peaked in the 1970s, when the U.S. produced about 11 million barrels a day. There were valleys in the 1980s, and another crest in the 1990s. Production started to pick up again around 2008, when new technology was able to coax oil out of previously hard-to-get places, mostly from ultra-deep offshore wells and oil-bearing shale rock, with relatively high prices making the whole process worth it.




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