U.S. becomes net exporter of petroleum, Illinois oil production - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

U.S. becomes net exporter of petroleum, Illinois oil production remains steady

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WSIL -- For the first time in nearly 75 years, the United States has become a net exporter of petroleum, which consists of crude oil and natural gas liquids. 

Seth Whitehead, Executive Director of the Illinois Petroleum Resource board, says shale drilling in places such Texas and New Mexico, over the past ten years, is mainly responsible for the breakthrough in petroleum. 

Although there's no shale drilling in Illinois, oil production is still a major part of the economy. The state's oil wells pump 8-9 million barrels of crude oil annually. That's just one day's worth of crude oil production for the entire country. 

"It's a small piece of the pie, but the impact that our small industry has on the state is anything but small," Whitehead says. 

Illinois has about 650 oil fields, mostly located in the southern part of the state. Whitehead says the industry directly employs 4,000 workers, mostly in White and Lawrence counties. 

Whitehead explains that output is consistent for the state, "No matter what the price of oil is, the production remains steady. That's a testament to our local producers here." 

The steady production helps to fund local schools. Whitehead says taxes on oil production between 2007-2013 contributed $57 million to education.

Right now, Illinois mainly uses vertical fracking on existing wells, which  means fewer wells are being drilled. "We have very shallow production and these wells have a longer life and just keep on going," Whitehead says. 

He adds that oil production could increase if the state allowed for more horizontal fracking. The change would result in more oil production and boost the state economy. 

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