July 1, 2015 / 12:59 AM / 4 years ago

U.S. crude oil production for April rises to most since 1971: EIA

Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from the Wilmington Field oil deposits area where Tidelands Oil Production Company operates near Long Beach, California July 30, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil production rose 9,000 barrels a day to 9.701 million barrels a day in April, the highest since May 1971, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in monthly data released Tuesday.

Technology for tapping shale oil has helped the U.S. unlock vast reserves of crude that were previously inaccessible, boosting production.

The modest increase from last month may suggest that a production plateau is approaching, which could deal a blow to U.S. crude prices, which have been generally rallying since March.

The flood of oil was one factor contributing to a price rout in the second half of last year, but production has continued at high levels even as drillers have shut in rigs in an attempt to scale back production.

The EIA, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy, expects that crude production will decline on a monthly basis starting in June.

Because U.S. crude production has risen, while regulations limit exports of oil but not fuel, overall petroleum product exports were the highest for April on record at 2.873 million barrels per day, according to the data released Tuesday.

U.S. April gasoline demand domestically rose 1.8 percent, or 160,000 bpd, versus last year at 9.139 mln bpd, compared with a 4.3 percent rise in March.

Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Alan Crosby

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