States producing the most oil
Electric cars, bikes, and scooters may populate many city streets and sidewalks, but the United States remains a country heavily dependent on oil. Since 2018, crude oil production rose from 2,734,901 annual-thousand barrels to 4,011,521 annual-thousand barrels.
Of course, Americans use oil for more than just transportation. Industrial and residential life is still very much shaped by oil. For example, crude oil can be refined into petroleum products that produce electricity—despite a growing push from some voters and businesses for more renewable energy usage. Oil can also produce a variety of byproducts including plastics, tars, chemicals, lubricants, and waxes.
Using 2018 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Stacker ranked the 25 states producing over 1 million oil barrels a year. Each state is ranked by barrels of oil produced, and detailed by the history of the state’s oil industry, major industry players, notable oil basins, regulations, and the presence of fracking or other unconventional production methods.
Longtime industry giants like Texas, California, and Oklahoma are present on the list, but there are a few newcomers such as Pennsylvania, which is the only state representing the Northeast. You will also find Pennsylvania’s neighbor to the west, which has quite the rich oil history—Ohio was the original home of Standard Oil, the monopoly that defined the oil industry and much of American economics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Other hot spots include states near the Gulf of Mexico, although some of those traditional oil powerhouses incur fluctuations when affected by major oil spills. Also, a state’s changing environment can also impact its yearly ranking—Florida, for instance with its wide swaths of wetlands and rare species, has made oil production a precarious endeavor.
Whether you’re a roughneck aficionado or simply a fan of “There Will Be Blood,” click through to find out which states are on the rise and decline in terms of oil production.
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#25. South Dakota
- 2018 crude oil production: 1.3 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 1.9 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -32%
According to the South Dakota Oil and Gas Association, the state has no oil refineries, but vertical wells in the western lands contribute enough oil to put the Mount Rushmore state into the top 25. In recent years, South Dakota has made a series of changes to its oil and gas laws, including prohibition of storage, or disposal of most liquid oil and gas field wastes in earthen pits or open receptacles.
- 2018 crude oil production: 1.7 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 2.4 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -29.8%
Indiana’s oil industry dates back to around 1889, when a well in the aptly named Wells county began producing significant amounts of oil. Given the pageantry and history of the Indianapolis 500, companies with oil ties are major sports sponsors in Indiana. Even the Indianapolis Colts play inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
- 2018 crude oil production: 1.8 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 2.2 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -15.4%
Florida is a state embroiled in the hottest debates revolving around the oil industry. With Florida’s vast miles of natural wetlands and rare species, environmentalists fight ardently to keep drilling to a minimum. Fracking is also a hot-button issue in the Sunshine State.
- 2018 crude oil production: 2.1 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 2.8 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -26.8%
Nebraska’s oil production is mostly confined to the western and southern areas of the state. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, instead of fracking, local companies use three-dimensional seismic imaging to find oil hot spots.
- 2018 crude oil production: 2.3 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 2.3 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -1.7%
Traditionally, the eastern and western corners of Kentucky have been oil-rich sectors. Founded in 1829, Kentucky’s Old American Well was one of the first commercial oil wells in the United States. Fracking exists in the state, but has not been fruitful.
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- 2018 crude oil production: 5.0 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 6.6 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -24.4%
Oil is big business in Arkansas. For example, local newspapers print weekly oil and gas reports for drilling permits and well completions. Meanwhile, organizations like the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association have been notable in influencing state legislation related to the oil industry.
- 2018 crude oil production: 5.4 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 7.8 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -30.5%
- 2018 crude oil production: 5.9 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 10.4 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -43.5%
Thanks to its location near the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama has drawn in big companies like Exxon, Shell, and Texaco throughout its oil-producing history. Recently, Alabama has benefitted from government-related energy funds. In the most recent fiscal year, Alabama received $34 million in such financial aid.
- 2018 crude oil production: 6.5 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 5.3 million barrels
- Change since 2013: +22.1%
A wide swath of Pennsylvania sits atop the Marcellus Shale, which has been described as “one of the largest natural gas fields in the world.” As a result, Pennsylvania was one of the first states to explore fracking. Recently, the state promised $3 million to study possible links between fracking and a rise in childhood cancer rates.
- 2018 crude oil production: 8.4 million barrels
- 2013 crude oil production: 9.5 million barrels
- Change since 2013: -11.7%
The southern portion of Illinois is rich in oil, and aptly named the Illinois Basin. Drilling first occurred in 1853 in Champaign, and today, 1,500 operators control wells in the state. Earlier this decade, fracking was all the rage in Illinois, but the process has quickly died down.
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