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US energy exports exceed imports

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World Pipelines,

Energy exports from the US reached an all-time high of 23.6 quadrillion Btu in 2019, marking the first time in 67 years that annual US gross energy exports exceeded US gross energy imports, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Monthly Energy Review. Gross US energy imports were 22.8 quads in 2019, the lowest since 1995. Last year was the first year when the US exported more energy than it imported since 1952, a year when the volume of energy imports and energy exports was much lower than it is today.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, Tables 1.4a, 1.4b, and 1.4c

EIA’s Monthly Energy Review reports aggregate totals of energy data in different physical units (bbls, ft3, etc.) by converting them into common units of heat, measured in Btu. The aggregate heat contents of petroleum, natural gas, and coal vary based on the mix of component products being consumed.

Net US energy imports have fallen from a peak of 30 quads in 2005, and they have decreased every year since 2016. Last year’s change in net energy trade in the US – from 3.6 quads of net imports in 2018 to 0.8 quads of net exports in 2019 – was the largest change in US energy trade since 1980.

Last year’s change in US energy trade was largely driven by decreases in net imports of crude oil. Natural gas net exports also increased, and net trade of the other energy sources remained similar to their 2018 levels. In 2019, the US continued to be a net importer (importing more than it exports) of crude oil and – to a much smaller degree – electricity and a net exporter (exporting more than it imports) of coal, coal coke, natural gas, petroleum products, and biomass.

US energy trade for selected fuel sources

Crude oil: US crude oil net imports, by energy content, decreased 31% from 2018 to 2019. This decrease of 4.1 quads (the equivalent of approximately 1.9 million bpd) accounted for most of the change in the net US trade of total energy. In 2019, gross imports of crude oil decreased, and gross exports of crude oil increased. The US has been a net importer of crude oil in every year since at least 1949 (the earliest in EIA’s energy trade data series). In 2019, Canada was both the largest source of US crude oil imports and the largest destination for US crude oil exports.

Petroleum products: Gross exports of petroleum products are the largest category of US energy exports, but in 2019, gross exports of US petroleum products decreased from a record high in 2018. The US has been a net exporter of petroleum products in each year since 2011. In 2019, Canada was the largest source of US petroleum product imports, and Mexico was the largest destination for US petroleum product exports.

Natural gas: Gross exports of US natural gas reached a record of 4.7 quads (nearly 12.8 billion ft3/d), up 29% from the previous year, continuing a five-year trend of annual increases. Gross US natural gas imports also fell by 5% from the previous year. The US has been a net exporter of natural gas since 2017. In 2019, Canada was the largest source of US natural gas imports, and Mexico was the largest destination for US natural gas exports.

Coal: Gross US exports of coal decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, and gross coal imports increased by 12%. The US has been a net exporter of coal since at least 1949. In 2019, India was the largest destination for US coal exports.

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