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A Push to Wrest More Oil From Land, but Most New Wells Are for Natural Gas
|With the advent of $4-a-gallon gasoline has come a bruising debate in Congress over whether to intensify efforts to drill on federal lands, including part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. But while those hoping to lower prices at the pump are clamoring for new oil, most of the new onshore drilling of the past seven years has produced natural gas, not oil.|
The Bush administration, in its effort to expand energy production, has issued more than three times the number of well-drilling permits on Western lands as in the Clinton administration’s last six years. But oil production in that region during the Bush years is 12 percent below average levels from the Clinton era, according to federal data.
Oil production declined over all to an average of 97.9 million barrels annually from 2001 through 2006, compared with average levels of 111.5 million barrels during the Clinton administration.
Drilling in the West is more likely to provide natural gas. Natural gas production has increased by 34 percent during President Bush’s term in office, compared with the annual production levels during President Bill Clinton’s term. On federal land in the West, average natural gas production during the first six years of this presidency was 2.4 billion cubic feet annually, up from 1.8 billion, on average, during the previous eight years, federal data show.
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