Projections in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013) Reference case focus on the factors that shape U.S. energy markets through 2040, under the assumption that current laws and regulations remain generally unchanged throughout the projection period. This early release focuses on the AEO2013 Reference case, which provides the basis for examination and discussion of energy market trends and serves as a starting point for analysis of potential changes in U.S. energy policies, rules, or regulations or potential technology breakthroughs. Readers are encouraged to review the full range of cases that will be presented when the complete AEO2013 is released in early 2013, exploring key uncertainties in the Reference case. Major highlights in the AEO2013 Reference case include:
The advent and continuing improvement of advanced crude oil production technologies continue to lift projected domestic supply. Domestic production of crude oil increases sharply in AEO2013, with annual growth averaging 234 thousand barrels per day (bpd) through 2019, when production reaches 7.5 million bpd. The growth results largely from a significant increase in onshore crude oil production, particularly from shale and other tight formations. After about 2020, production begins declining gradually to 6.1 million bpd in 2040 as producers develop sweet spots first and then move to less productive or less profitable drilling areas.
Relatively low natural gas prices, facilitated by growing shale gas production, spur increased use in the industrial and electric power sectors, particularly over the next 15 years. Natural gas use (excluding lease and plant fuel) in the industrial sector increases by 16 percent, from 6.8 trillion cubic feet per year in 2011 to 7.8 trillion cubic feet per year in 2025.