The United States became a net exporter of crude and petroleum products in September, thanks in large part to exports of finished petroleum products, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The United States exported a total of 262.7 million bbl of crude and petroleum products in September, compared with 260 million bbl of imports, according to an EIA analysis released Friday. The 89,100 b/d difference marked the first full month of net U.S. exports since the government began recording energy imports and exports in 1949.
The bulk of the import/export difference came in the form of finished petroleum products, including finished motor gasoline and distillate fuel oil. The United States remains a net importer of crude oil, importing 194.3 million bbl of crude in September, compared with 92.8 million bbl of exports.
Rystad Energy researchers said recently a "gargantuan" increase in oil and natural gas output from the Lower 48 could help the United States achieve full energy independence within the next six months. The researchers pegged the domestic energy independence milestone as likely to hit by March, depending on how cold this winter is. Total U.S. oil and gas production in 2030 is expected to outpace primary energy demand in the country by around 30%.
Crude and gas production should remain the two main contributors to domestic primary energy supply growth in the period, with oil accounting for 75% and gas 38%, according to Rystad. Crude output driven by production in the Permian Basin, as well as the Bakken and Eagle Ford shales, is forecast to grow to 39 quadrillion Btu, or 18.73 million b/d, from 2018’s 21.5 quadrillion Btu (10.32 million b/d).
Net U.S. natural gas exports through the first six months of 2019 more than doubled from year-ago levels, according to recent data from EIA, showing the rapid transformation underway for a country that only became a net exporter of natural gas in 2017. From January through June, net natural gas exports averaged 4.1 Bcf/d, up from 2.0 Bcf/d in the first half of 2018. Driven by liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and pipeline exports to Mexico, the United States exported more than it imported on an annualized basis in 2017, marking the first time that had happened in nearly 60 years, according to EIA.
EIA expects net U.S. exports to continue to grow, averaging 4.6 Bcf/d in 2019 before rising to 7.2 Bcf/d in 2020. That growth is to be driven by more LNG export capacity and pipeline infrastructure buildout in Mexico, according to projections.