The United States is on pace to pass both Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's biggest oil producer.
The latest data released by the Energy Department shows the US has been pumping more than 10 million barrels a day since February, up from 9.4 million in 2017, and that figure has been growing steadily all year.
If the current rate continues, US oil output could grow next year to 11.8 million barrels a day. Officials say that would make the US number one.
"If the forecast holds, that would make the US the world's leading producer of crude," says Linda Capuano, who heads the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Production is booming in shale fields because of newer techniques such as hydraulic fracturing, known as 'fracking,' and horizontal drilling.
The EIA reports, "Crude oil is produced in 32 US states and in US coastal waters. In 2017, about 65% of total US crude oil production came from five states." Texas tops that list with 38%, then North Dakota with 11%, followed by Alaska, California, and New Mexico, each with 5%.
But global oil prices have been rising, which could prompt Russia and Saudi Arabia to start pumping more oil to take advantage of those prices.
And US drillers are facing a potential obstacle that could slow down their output. There's a pipeline bottleneck that could inhibit efforts to send oil from the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico to ports and refineries.
"They are growing the production but they can't get it out of the area fast enough because of pipeline constraints," said Jim Rittersbusch, a consultant to oil traders.
About 100 countries produce the world's crude oil. Last year, roughly half of that oil production came from five countries:
- Saudi Arabia—13%
- United States—12%