By Robert Rapier Forbes September 20, 2019
There is a great irony that spans the presidential terms of George W. Bush andBarack Obama. President Bush, widely viewed as a Texas oil man, presided over eight straight years of declining U.S. crude oil production. In the year 2000, just before President Bush took office, U.S. crude oil production averaged 5.8 million barrels per day (bpd) according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). During President Bush’s last year in office, 2008, U.S. crude oil production averaged 5.0 million bpd.
The irony is President Obama – who is not viewed as a friend of the oil and gas industry – presided over rising oil production in each of the seven years he has been in office. From that low point in 2008, U.S. oil production has grown each year to reach 9.4 million bpd in 2015 — a gain of 88% during Obama’s presidency.
This is in fact the largest domestic oil production increase during any presidency in U.S. history.
President Obama reminded the country of this fact during previous State of the Union (SOTU) addresses. He talked about the resurgence of U.S. oil and gas production, but in his SOTU he couched the discussion in terms of a reduction in crude oil imports.
“Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy — something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”
It is true net crude oil imports have fallen by nearly 60% since President Obama took office. In 2008 our net imports (crude oil imports minus exports of finished products) were 11.1 million bpd, and in 2015 they were 4.7 million bpd. The largest reason for the decline in imports wasn’t the investment in clean energy that President Obama first mentioned, it was the 4.3 million bpd surge in U.S. crude oil production.
President Obama is walking a fine line in calling attention to this surge of oil production during his presidency for 2 reasons. One is he wants to be known as a president who took decisive action on climate change. But presiding over a huge surge of oil production isn’t exactly synonymous with combating climate change. Unless of course you couch the issue in terms of a reduction in oil imports, and then it sounds kind of like a positive for climate change to folks not paying attention.