U.S. Petroleum Exports Exceed Imports for the First Time Ever

For the first time in history, the U.S exported more petroleum products to overseas markets than it imported in October, according to the Energy Information Administration’s recently-released “Short-Term Energy Outlook” It represents an historic shift as the United States solidifies its role as an oil and natural gas powerhouse that’s able to provide for its own energy security.

EIA also reported that it expects CO2 emissions to fall each of the next two years thanks in part to natural gas, and for the fuel to become an increasingly larger share of the electricity generation mix.

The United States is Becoming an Energy Exporting Powerhouse

U.S. oil and natural gas production continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The International Energy Agency says the country will be responsible for 85 percent of the world’s oil production growth and 30 percent of natural gas growth through 2030. That’s allowed the United States to strengthen its energy security and become an energy powerhouse. For the first time ever, exports are outpacing imports.

The EIA report states:

“EIA estimates that the United States exported 140,000 [barrels per day] b/d more total crude oil and petroleum products in September than it imported; total exports exceeded imports by 550,000 b/d in October. If confirmed in survey-collected monthly data, it would be the first time the United States exported more petroleum than it imported since EIA records began in 1949.” (emphasis added)

Increased production and exports means the United States has less of a reliance on other countries to meet our energy needs. This is vital to energy security, as imports are vulnerable to all sorts of supply chain disruptions like trade conflicts, extreme weather events, political whims, and wars. This is especially notable as oil imports from Saudi Arabia into the United States have hit their lowest levels in decades.

Similarly, U.S. liquified natural gas exports have also grown significantly in recent years – a trend EIA to continue as new facilities come online:

“EIA expects U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to average 4.7 Bcf/d in 2019 and 6.4 Bcf/d in 2020 as three new liquefaction projects come online. In 2020, Cameron, Freeport, and Elba Island expect to place their remaining trains in service, bringing the total U.S. LNG export capacity to 8.9 Bcf/d by the end of the year. Meanwhile, EIA forecasts that annual U.S. dry natural gas production will average 92.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, up 10 percent from 2018. EIA forecasts natural gas production in 2020 will average 94.9 Bcf/d.”

Natural Gas Contributes More to Electricity Generation and Emissions Are Falling

As natural gas becomes an ever-larger part of the mix of electricity generation, EIA data predicts that emissions will fall over the next two years:

“EIA forecasts that, after rising by 2.7 percent in 2018, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will decline by 1.7 percent in 2019 and by 2.0 percent in 2020.”

This is good news for the environment and more evidence that thanks to constantly-improving technology and innovation, the United States is leading the world in emissions reductions. And, as the EIA report highlights, it’s happening in large part because of natural gas:

“In addition, EIA also expects U.S. CO2 emissions in 2019 to decline because the forecast share of electricity generated from natural gas and renewables will increase, and the share generated from coal, which is a more carbon-intensive energy source, will decrease.”

These falling emissions come as more Americans than ever are relying on natural gas for electricity:

“EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants will rise from 34 percent in 2018 to 37 percent in 2019 and to 38 percent in 2020.”


Pro-energy policies and improving technology continues to pay dividends as U.S. petroleum exports outpaced imports for the first time in American history. It’s helping the United States to solidify its own energy security and strengthen its global diplomacy.

At the same time, increased natural gas production is providing more Americans with reliable electricity generation and helping to make the United States a leader in carbon emissions reductions.

The EIA report shows that oil and natural gas development is an economic and environment win-win.

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