By - Jim Vess

United States set to become a net-energy exporter by 2020 for first time in 67 years

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019

The United States will become a net-energy exporter by 2020—as crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids production surpasses domestic energy consumption, according to a forecast by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The last time the U.S. was an exporter was in 1953.

The U.S. has been an exporter of coal and coke for decades and began increasing natural gas exports in 2017. The EIA expects that to be buttressed by increasing petroleum product exports in the next few years. The EIA analysis sees the U.S. as a net-energy exporter through 2050.

“The United States has become the largest producer of crude oil in the world, and growth in domestic oil, natural gas, and renewable energy production is quickly establishing the United States as a strong global energy producer for the foreseeable future,” EIA Administrator Linda Capuano said in a statement. “For example, the United States produced almost 11 million barrels per day of crude oil in 2018, exceeding our previous 1970 record of 9.6 million barrels.”

The EIA forecast is based on a model assuming current laws and regulations remain unchanged, including sunset dates; a 1.9 percent compounded annual growth rate for gross domestic product; and a $108-per-barrel price for Brent crude oil in 2018 dollars by 2050.

The projection also reflects current views on economic and demographic trends, and improvements in known technology.

Since 1953, the U.S. has imported more energy than it has exported on an annual basis. Back then, energy imports totaled 2.3 quadrillion British thermal (Btu) units. In 2005, energy imports reached a peak 35 quadrillion Btu. In 2018, imports were 20 quadrillion Btu.

The increase in crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids as a result of the development of shale oil basins is driving the change in the country’s trading position.

The EIA projects U.S. crude oil production continuing to set annual records through the mid-2020s with production remaining above 14 million barrels a day through 2040. Natural gas production is set to reach 43 trillion cubic feet by 2050. In 2017, operators produced nearly 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Natural gas liquid production is forecast to reach 6 million barrels a day by 2030.

“U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and pipeline exports to Canada and to Mexico increase until 2030 and then remain fairly constant through 2050 as relatively low, stable natural gas prices make U.S. natural gas competitive in North American and global markets,” the EIA said.

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