U.S. oil and natural gas proved reserves rose to record levels in 2018, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
U.S. proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate increased 12% to a record level of 47.1 billion barrels in 2018, from the previous record of 42 billion barrels in 2017. Meanwhile, U.S. proved reserves of natural gas increased 9% to a record level of 504.5 trillion cubic feet, from 464.4 trillion cubic feet. Proved reserves are volumes of oil and natural gas that geological and engineering data show to be recoverable from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.
Higher oil and natural gas prices contributed to the record oil and natural gas proved reserve levels, according to the EIA. Higher fuel prices can increase the reserves estimates because a larger portion of oil or natural gas resources can be produced economically. The annual average spot price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil increased 29% to $65.66 per barrel in 2018, from $51.03 per barrel in 2017. Meanwhile, the annual average natural gas spot price at the Henry Hub national benchmark in Louisiana increased 12% to $3.35 per million British thermal units, from $2.99 per million British thermal units.
U.S. crude oil and lease condensate production rose 17%, or by more than 1.6 million barrels per day, to an average of 10.96 million barrels per day in 2018, from 2017. Meanwhile, U.S. marketed natural gas production increased 12%, or by more than 10 billion cubic feet per day, to 89.9 billion cubic feet per day.
Texas had the largest net increase in oil and natural gas proved reserves in 2018, with a total of 2.3 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves and 22.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas proved reserves. The largest share of the increase was produced in the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring shale plays in the Permian Basin.