For the first time since the mid-1970s. : U.S. oil production could reach 11.8 million barrels a day next year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts in its July short-term energy outlook. That would make it the world’s biggest oil producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia, for the first time since the mid-1970s. As a result, American oil imports could drop as low as 1.6 million barrels a day, which would be the lowest level since 1958. America’s massive production capacity has helped it reshape the world energy market and given it diplomatic leverage.