Navigant Research Blog

U.S. Now an Oil Exporter

Neil Strother — December 2, 2011

I did a double take when I saw this headline on the homepage of The Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Nears Milestone: Net Fuel Exporter.”

“U.S. exports of gasoline, diesel and other oil-based fuels are soaring,” the newspaper reported, putting the nation on track to be a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.”

Really? Here are a few highlights from the WSJ’s story:

  • A combination of booming demand from emerging markets and faltering domestic activity means the U.S. is exporting more fuel than it imports, upending the historical norm.
  • As an overall exporter of fuels made from crude, the U.S. now has greater influence in the global energy market.
  • The U.S. will not lose its “net exporter” tag anytime soon.

While many of us weren’t paying much attention, people at energy companies saw a challenge and found new ways to meet it, leveraging new technologies for more efficient drilling amid a shifting global energy market.

This means the energy picture may not be so gloomy after all. Clearly, this does not mean we should ignore other fuel sources, including renewables. And it hardly helps solve the looming challenge of global climate change. But it does offer hope that solving long-term energy challenges, such as national energy security, may not be as difficult as once envisioned. That’s a good thing.

3 Responses to “U.S. Now an Oil Exporter”

  1. Sam says:

    Your title is misleading. The US is nowhere close to being a net exporter of oil. It is now a net exporter of petroleum products, but those products are largely made of imported oil.

  2. DmitryRUS says:

    Name of article is mistekan, but message is true!
    We cry (oil countries).
    D. (Russia)

  3. Levin says:

    For a more balanced view, see this report:
    http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/foreign_oil_dependence.cfm
    For national energy security, the important story that the WSJ ignored, is that the US imports almost 50% of the petroleum that is used.
    To be specific, 2676 million barrels of petroleum were imported in the first 9 months of 2011.
    http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html
    The net export of 64 million barrels of refined fuel (753M exported, 689M imported during the same 9 months) is a drop in the bucket.

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