By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com - Higher net crude oil imports are set to make the United States a net petroleum importer this year again, as in 2021, after a historic shift of being a net petroleum exporter in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Friday.
A net petroleum importer is a country that imports more crude oil and refined products than the crude and products it exports.
While the U.S. has been a net petroleum products exporter for more than a decade, it has always been a net crude oil importer, that is, it imports more crude than it exports.
The total crude and petroleum products trade marked a historic shift in 2020 when the U.S. became a net petroleum exporter. On a monthly basis, it was in September 2019 when the United States exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported—the first month in which US was a net petroleum exporter since monthly records began in 1973, the EIA said at the end of 2019.
In 2020, the plunge in global oil demand and the low oil prices that removed incentives for petroleum-exporting countries to raise production allowed the United States to export more petroleum in 2020 than it had in the past, the EIA said.
Also in 2020, the difference between U.S. crude oil imports and exports fell to its lowest point since at least 1985, the administration added. With rising consumption in 2021, net crude oil imports increased by 19% to an average of 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd).
The U.S. will continue to import more crude than it exports this year, with net imports expected at an annual average of 3.9 million bpd. If EIA forecasts of a record-high annual U.S. crude oil production of 12.6 million bpd in 2023 pan out, the US net crude imports would drop to 3.4 million bpd next year, the administration said.