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Oil output advances to 20-year high with fracking boost

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Oil production climbed to the highest level in 20 years as improved drilling techniques boosted exploration nationwide and reinforced a shift toward energy independence.

The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that output rose 0.6 percent to 7.04 million barrels a day in the week ended Jan. 11, the highest level since 1993. Production was up 23 percent from a year earlier. The nation met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first nine months of 2012, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1991, according to the EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.

“You are going to continue to see U.S. production growth, which is pretty exciting,” said Chip Hodge, senior managing director at Manulife Asset Management in Boston. “This is going to do a lot for the economy as the trade balance improves.”

Production grew by the fastest pace in U.S. history last year as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, unlocked crude trapped in formations such as North Dakota's Bakken shale.

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