Analytical Instrumentation

  • Is the US a Net Exporter of Crude Oil?

Is the US a Net Exporter of Crude Oil?

Feb 04 2019 Read 146 Times

While the US is home to goldmines like the Permian Basin and Eagleville Oil Field, the latest statistics confirm that the country remains a net importer of crude oil, not a newly inaugurated exporter as recent headlines would suggest. The debate was sparked by a recent story circulated by a leading business publication, which claimed that the US has become a net oil exporter for the first time in 75 years. The story quickly garnered global attention, though critics slammed the headline for misleading readers and failing to include context.

Crunching the numbers

Research was based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which covers US oil production, exports, consumption and inventories. It's known as the Weekly Petroleum Status Report and for the week ending November 30, 2018 it stated that the nation produced 11.7 million barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil, a 2 million increase from the previous year's figure. While it's a step towards energy independence, the report also noted that the US consumes 20.5 million BPD, a figure that's significantly higher than the 11.7 BPD it produces.

There are also other factors to consider, including a line item called 'Other Supply' which refers to natural gas liquids (NGLs) and fuel ethanol. This category accounted for 6.9 million BPD of production, which isn't included in the 11.7 million BPD crude oil production numbers. That said, even when added to the 11.7 million BPD figure, the US still only produces 18.6 million BPD, a figure that's 2 million BPD less than its consumption rates.

Factoring in exports

Crude oil exports should also be factored in, with the US purchasing 7.2 million BPD in the same week and selling 3.2 million BPD. In total, net crude oil imports totalled around 4 million BPD. The US also imported 1.6 million BPD of finished products and sold around 5.8 million BPD, including NGLs and ethanol. This puts total US exports of finished products at just over 4.2 million BPD.

Ultimately, the headline resulted from taking the net crude oil import figure of 4.0 million BPD and comparing it with the finished product export figure of 4.2 million BPD. While technically the US emerged as a net exporter of 0.2 million BPD of crude, this figure also included finished products. So, the reality is that the US still consumes 20.5 million BPD yet only produces 18.6 million BPD, which leaves a gap of nearly 2.0 million BPD.

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