U.S. crude output to decline less than previously forecast in 2021: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil production is expected to fall by 190,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2021 to 11.1 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday, a smaller decline than its previous forecast for a drop of 240,000 bpd.

FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks work at sunset near Midland, Texas, U.S., August 21, 2019. Picture taken August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jessica Lutz

Saudi Arabia this month pledged additional, voluntary oil output cuts, sending oil prices to the highest in nearly a year. [O/R]

Higher prices have prompted U.S. energy firms to increase drilling activity, with U.S. oil rigs rising last week to their highest since May.

“In 2020, the United States exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported on an annual basis for the first time in EIA’s data series that dates back to 1949,” EIA Administrator Linda Capuano said.

“EIA expects the U.S. to return to importing more crude and petroleum products than it exports on an annual basis in 2021 and 2022.”

Still, the price rally and any recovery in demand has been capped as new COVID-19 variants are rapidly spreading globally.

EIA expects U.S. petroleum and other liquid fuel consumption to rise 1.45 million bpd to 19.51 million bpd in 2021, a smaller increase than its previous forecast of a rise of 1.63 million bpd.

The agency also estimates that global consumption of petroleum and liquid fuels averaged 92.2 million bpd for all of 2020, down by 9 million bpd from 2019. The agency expects global demand will grow by 5.6 million bpd in 2021 to 97.77 million bpd, lower than it’s previous estimate for a rise of about 5.8 million bpd.

Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 90 million on Monday, according to Reuters tally, with nations scrambling to procure vaccines and extending or reinstating lockdowns.

Global oil demand is expected to grow by 3.3 million bpd in 2022 to 101.08 million bpd, EIA said.

U.S. oil output in 2022 is expected to rise 390,000 bpd to 11.49 million bpd.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by David Gregorio