The boom in the oil and gas exploration industry remains on the up, as capacity utilization in the sector tops 100% for the third month in a row, new data out of the Federal Reserve shows.
First, take a look at capacity utilization readings for seven main industries, along with the total aggregate index:
[credit provider=”Eric Platt/Business Insider, Data: Federal Reserve”]
The overall picture was stronger than November’s utilization rate, with the total index ticking 30 basis points higher to 78.1%.
While utilities continue to face difficulty, with overall utilization declining 220 basis points to 76.8%, energy exploration has rapidly expanded as shale development and off-shore drilling picks up.
Oil and gas exploration utilization stands at 100.9, the only sector to top the 100 mark since 2000 and indicative that production is higher than the potential capacity in 2007, the year the Fed benchmarks to.
The resurgent U.S. energy portfolio comes against a bleak global energy backdrop, as Iran attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz and Brazilian prosecutors try to block Chevron from drilling.
The focus has returned to North American sands and oilfields, as petrol and crude shipments move in greater volumes, most prominently in the Dakotas.
IHS Global Insights, a data forecasting firm, projects that the shale industry alone could add 270,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2015, particularlly if current production potential remains at or above capacity for long.