Energy exports from the United States rose to a record high of 23.6 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2019 — the first time in 67 years that annual U.S. gross energy exports exceeded U.S. gross energy imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA recently released its Monthly Energy Review that includes aggregate totals of energy data in different physical units and converts them into common units of heat, measured in British thermal units.
The United States became a net exporter of energy on a monthly basis in September 2019 after being a net importer for decades. In the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the United States is expected to again become a net importer of crude oil and petroleum products in the third quarter of this year and remain a net importer of these products through the majority of 2021.
Gross U.S. energy imports were 22.8 quads in 2019, the lowest since 1995, according to EIA’s Monthly Energy Review. 2019 was the first year when the United States exported more energy than it imported since 1952, a year when the volume of energy imports and energy exports was much lower than it is now.
Net U.S. energy imports have fallen from a peak of 30 quads in 2005, and they have declined every year since 2016. Net energy trade in the United States changed from 3.6 quads of net imports in 2018 to 0.8 quads of net exports in 2019 and was the largest change in U.S. energy trade since 1980.
The change in U.S. energy trade can be attributed to decreases in net imports of crude oil. Net exports of natural gas also rose, while net trade of the other energy sources were similar to 2018 levels. In 2019, the United States continued to be a net importer (importing more than it exported) of crude oil and electricity and was a net exporter (exporting more than it imported) of coal, coal coke, natural gas, petroleum products and biomass.
Net imports of U.S. crude oil by energy content declined 31% in 2019, from 2018. The decrease of 4.1 quads, or about 1.9 million barrels per day, accounted for most of the change in the net U.S. trade of total energy. In 2019, gross imports of crude oil declined, and gross exports of crude oil rose. The United States has been a net importer of crude oil every year since at least 1949, which was the first year in the EIA’s energy trade data series. In 2019, Canada was the largest source of U.S. crude oil imports and the largest destination for U.S. crude oil exports.
Gross exports of petroleum products comprised the largest category of U.S. energy exports, but in 2019, gross exports of U.S. petroleum products fell from a record high in 2018. The United States has been a net exporter of petroleum products since 2011. In 2019, Canada was the largest source of U.S. petroleum product imports, and Mexico was the largest destination for U.S. petroleum product exports.
Gross exports of U.S. natural gas increased 29% to a record of 4.7 quads, or nearly 12.8 billion cubic feet per day, in 2019, from 2018, and continued a five-year trend of annual increases. Gross U.S. natural gas imports declined by 5% from 2018. The United States has been a net exporter of natural gas since 2017. In 2019, Canada was the largest source of U.S. natural gas imports, and Mexico was the largest destination for U.S. natural gas exports.
Gross exports of coal fell 20% in 2019, from 2018, and gross coal imports rose by 12%. The United States has been a net exporter of coal since at least 1949. In 2019, India was the largest destination for U.S. coal exports.