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Category — Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

Knocking on OPEC's Door: The U.S. Becomes a Major Oil Exporter

Should the U.S. join OPEC? After all,  the U.S., home of the never-ending calls for “energy independence,” is an oil exporter. A big one.

Through the first six months of 2009, America’s daily exports were averaging 1.9 million barrels per day.[i] At that level, U.S. oil exports are on a par with countries like Angola and Venezuela.[ii] Of course, the vast majority of those exports are refined products, not crude. And those exports are also largely a function of America’s position as the world’s largest oil importer, which means that OPEC membership is rather unlikely.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is an integral player in the oil market. And there has never been a bigger, more global, more integrated, more transparent market than the modern crude oil and oil products market. And America’s role as an oil exporter should put paid to the continuing calls from both the Right and the Left for the U.S. to secede from the world oil sector. Energy Information Administration data show that rather than seceding from the global oil market, the U.S. is playing a bigger role than ever before and that the U.S. refining sector is bolstering its role as a global player in manufactured goods.

In 1998, the U.S. was exporting about 945,000 barrels of oil and refined oil products per day. By 2008, the U.S. was exporting nearly twice that amount, some 1.8 million barrels per day.[iii] What about imports over that time period? Well, while imports rose, exports rose even faster. In 1998, U.S. crude oil and petroleum product imports averaged 10.7 million barrels per day. By 2008, that number had increased to 12.9 million barrels per day.[iv] Thus, while total U.S. imports increased by 2.2 million barrels per day, or about 20%, over that time period, the amount of U.S. exports of refined products doubled, to about 1.8 million barrels per day. [Read more →]

October 8, 2009   3 Comments