For the first time in 75 years, the United States exported more oil than it imported, carrying out a pledge from President Trump that America can achieve “energy independence.” In fact, America is well on its way to becoming world’s biggest oil producer.
Daily Wire While the U.S. has been a net oil importer since 1949, over the final week of November, U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products fell to minus 211,000 barrels per day (bpd) — which means America exported more than it imported, according to data from U.S. Energy Information and Administration.
Oil production has been booming in the U.S. as the shale revolution swept the nation. America is now the world’s largest producer of petroleum, passing Russia and Saudi Arabia. As the U.S. oil boom spread, the power of OPEC was reduced and gas prices in the U.S. have dropped from the $4+ highs under former president Barack Obama.
Bloomberg The U.S ascension to the top of the oil producing nations, long occupied by Saudi Arabia and Russia, is about to scramble geopolitics. A new world energy order could emerge.
For one, the influence of one of the most powerful forces of the past half-century, the modern petrostate, would be diminished. No longer would “America First” diplomats need to tiptoe around oil-supplying nations such as Saudi Arabia.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would find it tougher to agree on production guidelines, and lower prices could result, reopening old wounds in the cartel. That would take some muscle out of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, while Russia’s oligarchs would find it more difficult to maintain the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed.
President Donald Trump, sensing an opportunity, is looking past independence to what he calls energy dominance. His administration plans to open vast ocean acreage to offshore exploration and for the first time in 40 years allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It may take years to tap, but the Alaska payoff alone is eye-popping—an estimated 11.8 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude.
The results are historic. In October, American net imports of crude and refined products dropped below 2.5 million barrels a day, the lowest since official data were first collected in 1973. A decade ago, U.S. net oil imports stood at more than 12 million barrels a day.
“For the last 40 years, since the Arab oil embargo, we’ve had a mindset of energy scarcity,” says Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former Obama administration official. “As a result of the shale revolution, the U.S. has emerged as an energy superpower.”
For OPEC, the emergent superpower presents an unprecedented challenge. If the cartel cuts production, shale drillers can respond by boosting output, stealing market share from OPEC nations and undermining their effort to manipulate prices. The only solution for OPEC is to prolong the limits, as it’s doing now, and hope for the best. If cooperation between OPEC and Russia breaks down, it’s not impossible that OPEC breaks down, too.
With shale surging, U.S. imports of Saudi oil plunged to a 30-year low last year. The turnabout makes China and Japan far more dependent than the U.S. on the Middle East.