11 Maps That Explain Energy In America

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9) The US produces about 62 percent of the oil it needs

This map shows every oil well in the lower 48 states. Not shown are oil wells in Alaska, responsible for about 5 percent of US production:

EIA-oil-wells-lower-48-states(Energy Information Administration)
Oil wells.

So far we’ve been looking at electricity, but that’s only part of the energy story. The United States also uses about 19 million barrels of oil per day, mainly turning it into fuel for our cars, trucks, and airplanes. That all has to come from somewhere. And, increasingly, it comes from within our own borders. The biggest oil states, by production, are Texas, North Dakota, California, Alaska, and New Mexico. (Note that not all wells are equally productive — Kansas has a lot of wells on this map but only ranks 10th in output.)

Overall, US oil production has been growing at a staggering rate in recent years. Back in 2010, the country was producing just 5.4 million barrels of crude oil per day. By April 2015, that had soared to 9.7 million barrels per day — the most since the 1970s

The reason for the surge: fracking and horizontal drilling techniques allowed oil companies to extract more crude from shale rock and other difficult formations in states like North Dakota and Texas. Advances in offshore drilling, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, have also helped. Meanwhile, as all this was happening, the US economy was also becoming more oil-efficient, thanks in part to stricter fuel economy rules for cars and light trucks. Add that all together, and oil imports from abroad have been plummeting.

The recent US boom also helped trigger the recent crash in oil prices worldwide. And that, in turn, has put pressure on American drillers. So far, they’ve managed to slash costs and continue pumping even in the face of low prices. We’ll see how long that can last.

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