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Tickers in this Article: CVX, MUR, EOG, HES, CLR, WLL, MRO
Recent statistics from the government indicate that the long decline in U.S. oil production has stopped. Is this a temporary phenomenon, or have the billions in investment in the so-called "mature" oil basins of the U.S. finally started to pay off?

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One fact that has been lost in all the excitement over peak oil is that U.S. oil production has stopped declining and has even started to rise. Although this production increase is nothing compared to worldwide daily demand for oil, a "drop in the bucket" as peak oilers love to say, it is an inconvenient fact that contradicts the certainty that this group has about the inexorable decline of oil production.

The Numbers Are On The Upswing
The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that U.S. crude oil production in October 2009 averaged 5.36 million barrels per day, the highest level since 2005. The API attributed the increase to success in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported oil production from the Gulf of Mexico on federal offshore areas was 1.46 million barrels per day in June 2009. There were several major projects that came online this year in the Gulf of Mexico.

Murphy Oil (NYSE:MUR) started production from the Thunder Hawk field, where it has a 37.5% interest. Current production is 37,000 barrels oil equivalent (BOE) per day, with three producing wells.

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) started up production from the Tahiti field in the Gulf of Mexico this year as well. The project reached its planned production of 135,000 BOE per day in July 2009. The company also has a project at Perdido that is expected to come online in 2010.

Big Production
Another source of production growth is coming from North Dakota, where oil production has increased from 90,000 barrels per day at the beginning of 2005, to 215,000 barrels per day in June 2009 according to the EIA. North Dakota has more up to date numbers, and has production at 231,000 barrels per day in August 2009.

This production is due to the Bakken Shale, one of the hottest shale plays in North America, which is currently being developed by the industry. The largest producers from the Bakken Shale formation in 2008 are in the table below:

Company Total Annual Production
EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) 8.2 million barrels
Amerada Hess (NYSE:HES 2.4 million barrels
Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) 2.4 million barrels
Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL) 2.0 million barrels
Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) 1.6 million barrels
Source: North Dakota Petroleum Council


The Bottom Line
The recent slight uptick in U.S. oil production won't stand in the way of a peak oiler pontificating on their soapbox about the coming end of civilization as we know it. Others who are less certain may have some thinking to do about whether this trend will continue. (Learn about factors that affect oil prices in our article, What Determines Oil Prices?)

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