• Is the US Still a Net Importer of Crude Oil?

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Is the US Still a Net Importer of Crude Oil?

Dec 15 2019

Despite the recent shale boom, the latest figures suggest the US is still an importer of crude oil and has not yet achieved energy independence. The closest it came to reaching this goal was in 2016, when the United States was between 86% and 91% self-sufficient. While 2011 saw the country emerge as a net exporter of refined petroleum products, and 2018 saw a high-profile article by Bloomberg laud the US as a net oil exporter, experts say energy independence remains a distant goal.  

The ups and downs of the US energy industry

The situation was dire in late 2005, when weekly net imports of crude oil and petroleum products exceeded 14 million barrels per day, an all-time high for the North American industry. The heavy reliance on imports was fuelled by years of growing demand in the United States, coupled with falling production. In 2007, net imports continued to hover around the 13 million BPD mark.

While US net imports of finished products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel declined during the shale boom, the concept of achieving energy independence remained unlikely. Failure to launch was aided by a 1975 crude oil export ban that forced US crude producers to sell exclusively to US refiners. After being refined, the finished fuel products were then exported to international buyers.

Obama ushers in new era for Stateside oil producers

In late 2015 the outlook changed, with President Obama introducing the Consolidated Appropriations Act which revoked the crude oil export ban. This opened new opportunities for US oil producers to seek out the highest prices for their product, instead of being restricted to US buyers.  

As a result, US crude oil exports began to rise, eventually reaching the 3 million BPD mark in early 2019. While there was plenty of hype surrounding the idea that the United States had emerged as a net crude oil exporter for the first time in 75 years in 2018, the figures didn't add up and imports have been on a steady incline ever since. Currently, the USA imports around 3 million BPD. While the figure represents a significant year-over-year decline, the goal of energy independence has yet to be achieved. Expert predict that if steady growth of shale oil production continues, energy independence could materialise by 2025. In the meantime, the United States is still reliant on oil imports.

From the introduction of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in 2015, to the revision of emissions regulations by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the energy industry is continually adapting to change. Want to know more? For a closer look at the latest FLT93 Switch technology engineered to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping, don't miss 'Safety of Shipboard Diesel-LNG Dual-Fuel Engines Relies on Ventilation Flow Assurance Switch.'


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