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U.S. Catching Up to Russia as the World's Top Energy Producer: Here's Why U.S. Catching Up to Russia as the World's Top Energy Producer: He... U.S. Catching Up to Russia as the World's Top Energy Producer: Here's ... U.S. Catching Up to Russi...

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Energy

U.S. Catching Up to Russia as the World's Top Energy Producer: Here's Why

Natural gas burning off at an oil well site near Tioga, N.D.(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

photo of Alex Brown
October 3, 2013

The United States is close to leapfrogging Russia as the world's No. 1 energy producer, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. How did it arrive at that analysis, and how did America catch up? Here's an explainer:

  • Using figures from the International Energy Agency, WSJ tallied fuel production and weighted it by energy output in British thermal units—for example, a cubic foot of natural gas contains 1,028 Btus, while a barrel of oil comes in at 5.8 million.
  • Taken together, U.S. fuel production in July was the equivalent of 22 million barrels of oil per day, more than a million barrels above last year's rate. Russia topped that by close to a million barrels, but recent gains show the U.S. is close to catching up.
  • A big part of the U.S.'s rise is natural gas; last year America topped Russia as the global production leader.
  • Horizontal drilling and fracturing to extract oil—techniques used little outside of the United States—have also contributed to the energy surge, opening new crude supplies.
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