U.S. exploration and production (E&P) firms last week approached the pandemic-era peak oil output level as catalysts for global demand gather and benchmark crude prices recover from fears imposed by financial system upheaval.

E&Ps churned out 12.2 million b/d for the week ended March 24, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Weekly Petroleum Status Report on Wednesday. The result was down 100,000 b/d from the previous week. But the prior week matched the U.S. high mark since the onset of coronavirus outbreaks in early 2020. Producers hit a record 13.1 million b/d in March of that year.

The latest EIA print marked a notable jump from the year-earlier level of 11.7 million b/d.

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