Global oil markets would be more volatile without the fracking-enabled U.S. production surge of recent years, according to the Energy Department's statistical arm.
Supplies have been threatened by political instability—including in Libya and Iraq—but increased U.S. production has outweighed foreign disruptions, the Energy Information Administration reports.
Here's an EIA chart that shows how U.S. production is counterbalancing oil production taken offline elsewhere:
"U.S. liquid fuels production, which includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, biofuels, and refinery processing gain, grew by more than 4.0 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from January 2011 to July 2014, of which 3.0 million bbl/d was crude oil production growth. During that same period, global unplanned supply disruptions grew by 2.8 million bbl/d," EIA said in a short analysis released Wednesday.
That has helped prevent global oil prices from jumping around too much. EIA says the domestic production surge "has contributed to a decrease in crude oil price volatility since 2011."
The agency points out that over the past 13 months, prices for Brent crude (a common reference point for global markets) has moved around within a "narrow" $5-per-barrel range of $107 and $112.
So while oil prices are hardly low, they're more stable thanks to the U.S. crude-oil production that's now at around 8.5 million barrels per day, the highest level in 27 years.