By Ovunc Kutlu
NEW YORK (AA) - U.S. crude production hit its highest level ever and surpassed Saudi Arabia as second-ranked in the world, according to data released Wednesday.
Crude production in the U.S. increased 332,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.25 million for the week ending Feb. 2, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed.
The nation’s previous high crude output was in November 1970 when it averaged just above 10.04 million bpd, according to the EIA.
The U.S.'s crude production last week caught up with Saudi Arabia, that averaged 9.92 million bpd in December, according to the most recent data based on OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report released Jan. 18.
A report by the EIA forecast crude oil production in the U.S. to average 10.6 million bpd in 2018 and output is projected to average 11.2 million bpd in 2019, a number that would surpass Russia -- the world's biggest crude oil producer.
Meanwhile, the U.S. remains the world's biggest oil consumer, but with the most recent jump in production, its crude imports showed a decline, while inventories increased last week.
Crude imports fell by 538,000 bpd to 7.89 million bpd for the week ending Feb. 2, and commercial crude stocks slightly rose 1.9 million bpd to 420.3 million, the EIA data said.
The new data helped move the global market following the report.
International benchmark Brent crude was down 2.6 percent to $65.44 at 1140 EST (1640GMT), while American benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell to $61.62 -- a 3.5 percent loss.