U.S. oil exports on the rise

Corrects and replaces statement of U.S. oil exports, cites petroleum market analysis from external media outlets and incorporates data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

By Brien Southward

The United States could be making strides toward being a net exporter of petroleum for the first time in over six decades, based on trends in the first quarter of 2011.  USA Today reports the U.S. is producing more crude oil and for the first time in decades has become a net exporter of petroleum products such as jet fuel, heating oil and gasoline.

According to an article published by MSNBC, annual domestic production of crude oil could rise to 2.9 billion barrels by 2020. The article states that American oil production has been rising steadily for the past three years while crude oil imports have fallen 10% over the past five years.

Among the top four exporters of petroleum to the United States, a November 29, 2011 report from the EIA reports that total year-to-date petroleum imports for 2011 stand at 2.67 MMbd from Canada, 1.187 MMbd from Saudi Arabia, 1.218 MMbd from Mexico, and 0.979 MMbd from Venezuela.

Citing the May 25, 2011 edition of This Week in Petroleum, the EIA report states that “U.S. dependence on imported oil has dramatically declined since peaking in 2005,” and attributes the change to “a variety of factors including a decline in consumption and shifts in supply patterns,” as well as increases in efficiency and the effects of the financial crisis of 2008.

In recent years, a diminishing percentage of imports has come from sources in the Middle East. Although American involvement in the Middle East has increased the importance of the resources in areas such as the Kurdistan region of Iraq, a 2010 report from the Energy Information Administration states that 51% of the United States’ petroleum needs were met by U.S. petroleum.

The top sources of net petroleum imports in 2010 are 49% from the Western Hemisphere, including 25% from Canada, 10% from Venezuela, and 9% from Mexico. Overall, the second-largest source of net petroleum imports, after Canada, is Saudi Arabia at 12%, followed by Nigeria at 11%.

According to the report, the United States’ petroleum consumption in 2010 averaged 19.1 million barrels per day (MMbd), while crude oil production stood at 5.5 million barrels per day, making it the world’s largest petroleum consumer and its third largest producer. Other sources of fuel contributed another 4.2 MMbd during 2010. Total export of crude oil and petroleum products amounted to 2.3 MMbd, yielding net imports of 9.4MMbd.

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