Ever since America’s first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, our country has produced a majority of the oil it requires to keep the economy growing. Production continues to grow, and new technologies are unlocking additional sources of oil that we haven’t been able to recover until now.
Unsurprisingly, Texas is still the largest oil producing state with about 2.6 million barrels per day. Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico produces another 1.2 million barrels of crude every day. Few people think of North Dakota as a major oil state, but it produces 875,000 barrels each day. California and Alaska both produce between 450,000 and 600,000 barrels daily.
Until recently, we were only able to drill for oil in certain locations, but shale mining is opening up tremendous reserves around the entire country. In Utah and Colorado, the Green River Formation holds more crude oil than all of the OPEC countries combined. In fact, the Green River Formation alone holds about 3 trillion barrels of oil — about three times as much oil as human civilization has used since the first engines appeared more than 100 years ago.
Many people are still worried about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing. However, early studies show that fracking is safe as long as producers exercise proper safety guidelines to prevent chemicals from contaminating the groundwater.
Oil producers mainly transport crude oil in one of two ways. Gigantic seafaring tankers can carry up to 2 million barrels of crude, and for comparison, the U.S. produces about 7.5 million barrels every day. To get that oil to the coast, producers employ a network of pipelines, trucks, and trains, but pipelines have proven to be the safest and most cost effective form of land-based transportation.