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Drilling rigs in North Dakota. Photo: Ken Cedeno/Corbis via Getty Images

U.S. crude oil production reached a new milestone — averaging an estimated 11 million barrels per day last week for the first time ever — and the surge will keep going as America has again become a crude powerhouse.

Why it matters: The number, which is from preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration, is a symbolic threshold that underscores the scale of the U.S. oil boom from shale resources.

  • Shale has basically fueled a doubling of the country's output over the last decade to allow the U.S. to join Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's biggest producers.

Yes, but: The eye-popping U.S. production data in recent months and years arrives amid reminders that for all the White House bravado about achieving energy "dominance," the U.S. remains tethered to OPEC and Russia — and global markets generally — in fundamental ways.

  • Consider that this summer, President Trump joined the list of U.S. presidents who have pled with the Saudis to boost production to help with U.S. needs (a topic we explored here).

Between the lines: Right now, despite the U.S. surge, Trump needs more barrels on the market from the Saudis and others to meet his foreign and domestic political priorities.

  • He's trying to drive down Iranian exports with new sanctions, but wants greater output elsewhere to prevent gasoline price spikes that could hurt Republicans politically.

The big picture: EIA expects the U.S. to average 12 million barrels per day of crude production in 2019, becoming the world's largest producer.

  • The International Energy Agency sees oil output from shale formations, which now represent about two-thirds of U.S output, plateauing at well over 11 million barrels in the mid-2020s.

The bottom line: The U.S. surge isn't going away, but it's hardly a panacea.

To be sure: Those weekly EIA estimates are rounded to the nearest 100,000 barrels and very preliminary. But they're also directionally right, even if more precise data will arrive later.

One level deeper: Reuters unpacks the 11 million figure here, noting that if confirmed by subsequent data, it would put the U.S. just behind Russia as the largest producer right now.

A practical question at this point: "This report comes amidst worries that infrastructure bottlenecks, which make it difficult for producers to get their oil to market, could soon start curtailing output," per Reuters.

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

5 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

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