Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to produce crude oil and natural gas?

A measure of the total cost to produce crude oil and natural gas is the upstream costs. The upstream cost includes lifting and finding costs. Lifting costs are the costs to operate and maintain oil and gas wells and related equipment and facilities to bring oil and gas to the surface. Finding costs are the costs of exploring for and developing reserves of oil and gas and the costs to purchase properties or acquire leases that might contain oil and gas reserves.

EIA collects data related to these costs from the largest (major), U.S. oil and gas producers in its Financial Reporting System (FRS). The data are generally representative of the average cost for the FRS companies to find and produce their own particular mix of crude oil and natural gas in their production locations in the U.S. and in other countries and regions of the world. The table below is adapted from the most recent report of the Performance Profiles of Major Energy Producers, 2009.

Costs for Producing Crude Oil and Natural Gas, 20072009
2009 Dollars per Barrel of Oil Equivalent1

  Lifting Costs Finding Costs Total Upstream Costs
United States Average $12.18 $21.58 $33.76
    On-shore $12.73 $18.65 $31.38
    Off-shore $10.09 $41.51 $51.60
All Other Countries Average $9.95 $15.13 $25.08
    Canada $12.69 $12.07 $24.76
    Africa $10.31 $35.01 $45.32
    Middle East $9.89 $6.99 $16.88
    Central & South America $6.21 $20.43 $26.64

15,618 cubic feet of natural gas equivalent to one barrel.

Source: Tables 10, 11 and 12, Performance Profiles of Major Energy Producers, 2009.

Last reviewed: January 15, 2014

Other FAQs about Crude Oil

On This Page:


Conversion & Equivalents

Crude Oil





General Energy

Natural Gas




Full list of upcoming reports

Sign up for email notifications

Get the What's New RSS feed

Didn't find the answer to your question? Ask an energy expert.