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Covid-19 Blamed For Largest Decrease In US Energy Production History

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In 2020, energy production in the United States fell to just below 96 quadrillion British thermal units (quads), down more than 5% from 2019’s record high, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The drop from 101.3 quads in 2019 to 95.8 quads in 2020 marked the largest annual decrease in US energy production on record. Economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that began during the spring of 2020 drove most of this decrease.

US crude oil production fell by 8% in 2020 after reaching a record high in 2019. The sudden drop in petroleum demand in March 2020 because of the global response to COVID-19 led crude oil operators to decrease production.

Natural gas dry production in the United States increased in eight of the previous nine years and hit a record high in 2019. It decreased by 2%, in 2020. Production of natural gas plant liquids, a by-product of natural gas production, increased by 7% in 2020.

US renewable energy production increased by 2% between 2019 and 2020 to a record-high 11.8 quads in 2020, primarily because of increased electricity generation from wind and solar. In 2019, renewable energy production surpassed coal production for the first time.

To calculate US energy production and to compare different types of energy reported in different physical units (such as barrels, cubic feet, tons, kilowatthours, etc), the EIA converted sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu). It used a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate electricity consumption of non-combustible renewables such as wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal.

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