When the ball drops at midnight this year, will the U.S. be the world’s top oil producer? The Energy Information Administration (EIA) thinks so, saying in its Dec. 11 report that with a record 10.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d), the nation will end 2018 as just that. U.S. crude had been expected to slow slightly for this year but the EIA now forecasts output to rise by 1.5 million bbl/d. What’s behind the surge? EIA credits the U.S. shale revolution to toppling Russia and Saudi Arabia for the top spot.

Australia also rose to the top spot this year for LNG exports. What was long expected finally happened in November, data showed this week. In November, Australia loaded 6.5 million tons of LNG for export, putting it past former number one, Qatar. The surge in exports follows the start-up of a number of projects over the past three years—most recently the Ichthys Project.

The U.S. is increasingly getting into the LNG exports game. This week Cheniere Energy said the first commissioning cargo had departed from its new Corpus Christi liquefaction facility in Texas. It marks the first export of LNG from Texas and a greenfield liquefaction facility in the Lower 48 states.

Hess and ConocoPhillips both expect to produce more oil in 2019 than this year without altering their exploration budget in a big way. ConocoPhillips said it will spend more on Alaska and Canada than before in the next year while keeping expenses in the continental U.S. which includes the Permian Basin, largely unchanged. Hess said the lion’s share of its $2.9 billion capital expenditure in 2019 will be used for exploration in Guyana and in the Bakken shale of Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota. The company’s spending in Guyana largely focuses on production from its offshore discoveries in partnership with Exxon Mobil that now total more than 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent per day.

A number of conservation groups are suing the Trump administration over seismic testing offshore the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The U.S. Fisheries Service gave initial permission last month to five companies to conduct seismic airgun tests beneath a vast region. A federal marine biologist said last month that no seismic tests have been known to cause whale beachings as the conservation groups argue.

Lastly, Oil and Gas Investor announced it 25 Influential Women in Energy this week. The honorees will be celebrated at a luncheon in downtown Houston on Feb. 12 with the keynote address delivered by Susan Helms, retired Lieutenant General in the U.S. Air Force and a former NASA astronaut. Texas A&M’s Vice Chancellor of Engineering and National Laboratories, Dr. Katherine Banks will be honored with the pinnacle award presented by Schlumberger. You can see the full list and get information on the luncheon at oilandgasinvestor.com.