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Thanks to lower net imports of crude oil and higher net exports of natural gas, the gross U.S. energy exports hit a record-high in 2019, exceeding gross energy imports for the first time since 1952, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday.
Total gross energy exports from the United States hit an all-time high of 23.6 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2019—a common unit of heat in which the EIA converts all different physical units of energy such as barrels and cubic feet.
While gross energy exports hit a record high, the U.S. energy imports fell to their lowest level in nearly 25 years – to 22.8 quads in 2019, the lowest since 1995.
Over the past decade and a half, net U.S. energy imports have fallen from a peak of 30 quads in 2005, and they have been down every year since 2016, EIA’s data shows.
“Last year’s change in net energy trade in the United States—from 3.6 quads of net imports in 2018 to 0.8 quads of net exports in 2019—was the largest change in U.S. energy trade since 1980,” according to the administration.
Last year, the U.S. was still a net importer of crude oil, but net imports dropped by 31 percent in terms of energy content, according to EIA’s estimates.
Surging shale production and growing global demand for light low-sulfur oil helped U.S. crude exports to soar by 45 percent year on year in 2019, reaching an average of 2.98 million barrels per day (bpd), the EIA said last month. The United States exported crude oil to 44 different destinations last year, compared to 41 export destinations in 2018. Canada was the biggest buyer of American crude with a 15 percent share, closely followed by South Korea, with 14 percent of all U.S. crude exports.
The United States was a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products in February, with the four-week average net imports at a negative 907,000 bpd in the last week of February, the lowest ‘imports’ level in EIA data dating back to 1973. Despite the ‘net petroleum exporter’ status, the U.S. continues to be a net importer of crude oil—it continues to import more volumes of crude oil than it exports.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.