U.S. Oil Production Surpasses Foreign Imports

The U.S. produced more crude oil than it imported in October. That's the first time that has happened since 1995. The U.S. is still a long way from energy independence, but the trend is decidedly positive.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with an American energy boom.

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MONTAGNE: Yesterday, White House spokesman Jay Carney made this announcement.

JAY CARNEY: In October, for the first time in nearly two decades, domestic oil production - which is at a 24 year high, surpassed foreign oil imports.

MONTAGNE: As NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, The U.S. is producing more crude oil at home than it imports, the U.S. is still a long way from energy independence, but the trend is decidedly positive.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: The latest milestone shows up in the October numbers released by the Energy Dept. Domestic crude production topped net imports by 170,000 barrels a day.

PHILIP VERLEGER: It's a milestone because nobody ever thought this was going to happen. All the rest of world looking on didn't expect us to be producing more and consuming less.

KAUFMAN: That's Phillip Verleger, an independent energy economist.

Consumption has fallen as the recession and high prices at the pump prompted Americans to change their driving habits. They're driving less and in more fuel-efficient cars.

At the same time, the production of oil - especially from shale - has been rising. And says Verleger...

VERLEGER: Technology is going to improve for the oil extraction, so oil production is going to keep rising.

KAUFMAN: What will it all mean at the pump. Analyst Tom Klousa of the Oil Price Information Service predicts gas prices are headed down just a bit. Right now, the average price is about $3.19 a gallon.

TOM KLOUSA: I think between now and, let's say Martin Luther King weekend, we will probably bottom out between 3.05 and 3.15.

KAUFMAN: Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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