Oil Crash Pushed 2020 U.S. Output to First Drop in Four Years
An oil pumping unit, also known as a “nodding donkey” or pumping jack, operates at sunset at a drilling site. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Oil Crash Pushed 2020 U.S. Output to First Drop in Four Years

U.S. crude production decreased for the first time in four years in 2020 as the pandemic crushed global oil demand.

American crude output averaged 11.313 million barrels a day last year, down nearly 8% from the year prior, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s the lowest production rate since 2018 and it marked the biggest year-over-year percentage decline since 1949.

Oil Crash Pushed 2020 U.S. Output to First Drop in Four Years

Drillers laid down rigs in oil fields across the country after the heath crisis sapped demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel derived from crude. At the peak of the market crisis in April, West Texas Intermediate futures settled at -$37.63 a barrel, marking the first time in history the commodity closed below zero.

Last year, America’s shale oil engine, Texas, saw output fall more than 200,000 barrels a day compared with the year before, EIA data show. Production in the Gulf of Mexico slumped to 1.654 million barrels a day last year, from 1.896 million in 2019, because of a record hurricane season.

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