Domestic oil and gas production has recovered from the pandemic recession to near all-time highs under President Joe Biden despite his campaign pledges to crack down on fossil fuels.

Biden has taken several high-profile actions against fossil fuels, including blocking the Keystone XL pipeline and placing a moratorium on new leases for drilling oil and gas on public lands.

But the Biden administration has endorsed increasing oil production to lower record gas prices as well as additional production and export of liquefied natural gas to aid allies in Europe who are trying to find alternatives to Russian gas imports.


Here's where U.S. fossil fuel production is headed now:

U.S. crude oil production cratered when the pandemic hit, falling to 9.7 million barrels per day for the month of May 2020, the lowest average since October 2017, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Eighteen months later, in November 2021, daily production rose by about 2 million barrels over that level.

Oil production is now headed toward all-time highs, reaching 11.8 million bpd for the week of May 6. That total is about 100,000 bpd lower than the week before but is still up from the 11.7 million bpd produced during the first week of January.

In its most recent short-term energy forecast, the EIA adjusted down slightly its production projections for 2022 to 11.9 million bpd. However, the EIA projects production in 2023 to reach 12.8 million bpd, which would be a record-high rate of production on an annual-average basis.

Demand for natural gas has ballooned across the globe over the past eight months, especially in European countries suffering sky-high prices, causing the domestic natural gas industry to anticipate a big year for profits.

Aggregate production volumes for November also neared pre-pandemic levels, and production reached its highest level on record in December 2021.

Total production fell in February, which the EIA blamed on temporary freeze-offs in producing regions, but is since recovering. Production averaged 95.5 billion cubic feet per day in April, up 0.4 bcf per day from March.

U.S. liquefied natural gas producers have been operating at peak capacity over the past several months.

The United States became the top exporter of LNG in the world in December, the first time it had done so, and went on to average 11.2 bcf per day in January, up more than 7.5% over the daily average for the fourth quarter of 2021.

LNG exports have since risen further and averaged 11.6 bcf per day in April.

Gas shortages in Europe and the associated rise in prices across its markets have driven this increase, and worries about disruption to pipeline gas to the continent from Russia are also increasing demand for an alternative in U.S. LNG. The EIA expects LNG exports to average 12 bcf per day this year, a 23% increase from 2021.

The rig count is a tally of active oil and gas drilling rigs across the country and is another metric besides output commonly used to track production activity. Rig counts have recovered steadily from the pandemic under Biden.

The rig count was up by 261, a nearly 175% increase, for the year ending May 13, according to Baker Hughes.


Total domestic coal production fell steeply in 2020, but the fuel saw a measured recovery in 2021 as coal demand grew — in part due to higher gas prices.

Total production increased by 8% last year versus 2020, although it was still 18% below 2019's totals.

The industry's view

The message to the Biden administration from the oil and gas industry, as well as from many congressional Republicans, during this production growth period has more or less been "no thanks to you."

Industry leaders and lawmakers have consistently criticized the Biden administration's energy and climate policies, such as those seeking climate-related disclosures from companies and restrictions on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, as kneecapping the domestic industry and preventing them from scaling production back up to meet demand.

Republicans, in particular, have blamed record-high gas prices on Biden's policies. Following the administration's most recent decision to cancel lease sales off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Energy Action Team Co-Chairmen Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said, "The Biden administration once again chose higher gas prices by pushing their anti-American energy agenda at the expense of hard-working families."

Environmentalists' view

Meanwhile, these fossil fuel production trends and other decisions by the administration, such as his decision not to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, have been a point of special contention between climate hawks and Biden.