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U.S. Energy Imports Lowest in Two Decades

U.S. net energy imports in 2013, measured in terms of energy content, fell to the lowest level in more than 20 years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported. Natural gas imports have fallen at a steady pace since 2007, when unconventional drilling grabbed a substantial foothold in the onshore.

"Growth in the production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported increased petroleum product exports, driving most of the decline," EIA stated in the latest monthly report (see Daily GPI, April 1). "A large drop in energy imports together with a smaller increase in energy exports led to a 19% decrease in net energy imports from 2012 to 2013."

According to the data, total energy imports into the United States (natural gas, crude oil, petroleum products and coal) hit their zenith in 2005, with 29.248 quadrillion Btu imported; 2005 was also the biggest year for crude oil imports at 22.091 quadrillion Btu.

Gas imports were highest in 2007 at 4.723 Tcf, but  they have declined every year since. The drop in oil imports is responsible for most of the decline in imports, but the decline in gas being imported since 2007 is notable. In 1995, for instance, domestic gas imports totaled 2.901 Tcf, and they steadily increased over the next 12 years.

Last year the United States imported 2.955 Tcf of gas, down from 3.216 in 2012, 3.555 in 2011 and 3.834 in 2010.

Total energy imports declined at a faster rate from 2012 to 2013, down around 9% year/year, according to EIA. At the same time, export growth slowed. Crude oil production last year was up about 15%, about the same pace as in 2012. Higher crude output last year resulted in fewer imports, which fell about 12% year/year.

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