United States exported more petroleum than it imported in 2020, according to EIA

Published on February 19, 2021 by Dave Kovaleski

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In 2020, the United States exported more petroleum than it imported – marking the first time that has happened, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s February 2021 Short-Term Energy Outlook.

However, EIA expects the U.S. to return to being a net petroleum importer in 2021 and 2022 due to declines in domestic crude oil production and corresponding increases in crude oil imports.

Increasing crude oil imports will drive the growth in net petroleum imports in 2021 and 2022, offsetting changes in refined product net trade. Net imports of crude oil will increase from its 2020 average of 2.7 million barrels per day (b/d) to 3.7 million b/d in 2021 and 4.4 million b/d in 2022, EIA reported.

U.S. net petroleum product exports—distillate fuel oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, and motor gasoline, among others—averaged 3.2 million b/d in 2019 and 3.4 million b/d in 2020. Net petroleum product exports will average 3.5 million b/d in 2021, and 3.9 million b/d in 2022 as global demand for petroleum products continues to increase from its recent low point in the first half of 2020.

Also, EIA said that the United States will import more crude oil to fill the widening gap between refinery inputs of crude oil and domestic crude oil production in 2021 and 2022. U.S. crude oil production declined by about 0.9 million b/d – or 8 percent — to 11.3 million b/d in 2020 because of well curtailment and a decline in drilling activity.

Further, EIA expects the rising price of crude oil will contribute to more U.S. crude oil production later this year. Monthly domestic crude oil production will reach 11.3 million b/d by the end of 2021 and 11.9 million b/d by the end of 2022. These values are up from the most recent monthly average of 11.1 million b/d in November 2020 but still lower than the previous peak of 12.9 million b/d in November 2019.