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The Energy Department reported that weekly average output rose to 7.002 million barrels a day in the week ended Jan. 4, a 1.16 million-barrel increase from the same week last year. The country met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first nine months of 2012, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1991, department data show.
Production grew by the fastest pace in U.S. history last year and will accelerate in 2013 as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, unlocks crude trapped in formations such as North Dakota's Bakken shale. The state boosted production 40 percent last year through October, Energy Department data show. Texas was up 23 percent, and Utah rose 11 percent.
"I don't think anyone expected the magnitude of the change in just one year," said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC, a Houston-based consulting firm. "It's extraordinary."
The Paris-based International Energy Agency said in November that U.S. oil production is on track to surpass Saudi Arabia's by 2020. The Persian Gulf country, the world's largest oil exporter, pumped 9.57 million barrels a day in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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