The claim: Texas was the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, overtaking Saudi Arabia
But a widely viewed Facebook post claims Texas was at one point the world’s biggest oil producer, even surpassing oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
“On this day in 2018, Texas was the world’s largest oil producer, overtaking Saudi Arabia,” it read. October 5th postwhich has been shared over 4,500 times in six days.
But the claim is false for several reasons.
Texas produced about 1.6 billion barrels of oil in 2018according The Texas Railroad Commission, which is the state agency that oversees the petroleum and natural gas industry. Saudi Arabia, however, produced more than double, producing more than 3.7 billion barrels for the year.
The United States as a whole – not just Texas – has become the largest oil producer in the world in 2018, overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia. The United States is still in first place and has represented 14.5% of global crude oil production last yearcompared to 13.1% for Russia and 12.1% for Saudi Arabia, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
USA TODAY has contacted the user who shared the post for comment.
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Texas produces less oil than Russia and Saudi Arabia
By any measure, Texas was not the “world’s largest oil producer” in 2018, as the claim suggests.
Texas produced approximately 4.7 million barrels of oil per day in October 2018 – the period referenced in the post. But it’s less than half of what Saudi Arabia was producing at the time, according to the Energy Information Administration.
There’s no publicly available oil production data for specific days, but it’s unlikely Texas ever overtook Saudi Arabia “unless that day was somehow extraordinary.” , said Ted Kurydirector of energy studies at the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida.
“Anyway, a day doesn’t matter much in oil production,” he said.
And to become the world’s largest oil producer at the time, Texas would have had to do more than surpass Saudi Arabia. He should also have beaten Russia, which was producing about 10.8 million barrels per day in 2018.
“Even though Saudi Arabia had a bad day, Texas was probably behind Russia,” Kury said.
Texas, however, played a significant role in making the United States as a whole the largest oil producer in the world, a title that the country has held since 2018. The amount of oil produced in the United States increased almost every year between 2009 and 2019, fueled by more profitable drilling technology in Texas, but also in North Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado, according to the Energy Information Administration.
There is, however, an oil-producing area in Texas that is perhaps the most productive in the world.
The Permian Basina vast swath of land in Texas and New Mexico, was producing more than 3.8 million barrels per day for the first time at the end of 2018, according to a Petroleum Technology Journal report.
That figure had risen to 4.1 million barrels per day by early 2019, which the report said “led some to claim that the Permian overtook (Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar oilfield) as” world’s largest oil producer.
Our opinion: False
Based on our research, we rate the claim that Texas was the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, surpassing Saudi Arabia, as FALSE. Texas produced about 1.6 billion barrels of oil in 2018, less than Russia and Saudi Arabia produced that year. However, the United States was the world’s largest oil producer overall in 2018, a title the country has held ever since.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Ted KuryOctober 10, email exchange with USA TODAY
- The Railroad Commission of Texas, accessed October 7, Monthly oil and gas production
- Energy Information Administration, accessed October 7, Petroleum and Petroleum Products Explained
- Energy Information Administration, accessed October 7, Crude oil production, Saudi Arabia, annual
- Energy Information Administration, September 12, 2018, The United States is now the world’s largest crude oil producer.
- Energy Information Administration, accessed October 7, United States Crude Oil Production
- Energy Information Administration, accessed October 7, Crude Oil Field Production in Texas
- Journal of Petroleum Technology, April 15, 2019, Ghawar vs Permian basin: is there even a comparison?
- CNN, September 12, 2018, America is now the world’s largest oil producer
- The Railroad Commission of Texas, accessed October 10, Permian Basin
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