United States Will Soon Pass Saudi Arabia in Fossil Fuel Exports

Published April 16, 2019

The United States will be exporting more oil, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and gasoline than Saudi Arabia by the end of 2019, which has not occurred since Saudi Arabia began exporting oil in the 1950s, reports the research firm Rystad Energy.

Shale Boom Credited

The surge in U.S. oil production is due to the fracking boom, which has made the United States the world’s leading exporter of oil and related liquids, Rystad reports.

Oil and gas production from fracking will soon propel the United States past another milestone that has eluded it since 1953: in 2020, the United States will export more energy than it imports, Rystad predicts.

Thanks to the technological innovations that have made possible the shale revolution in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and elsewhere, U.S. oil production has more than doubled over the past decade, reaching record highs. The United States already produces more oil than any other country, including Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia currently exports about seven million barrels of crude oil and two million barrels of natural gas liquids and petroleum products per day, Rystad reports. The United States exports about three million barrels per day of crude oil and five million barrels per day of natural gas liquids and petroleum products.

Different Requirements

Because production from fracked wells declines relatively quickly, the U.S. must maintain high levels of exploration to sustain production, says Gary Stone, executive vice president of engineering for Five States and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“Unlike production from conventional wells, like those in Saudi Arabia, to maintain production levels and export capacity, U.S. producers must continue to drill wells at today’s rapid rate,” Stone said.

Transforming the World Situation

The United States should reform outmoded laws to reflect America’s new position as the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, says Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation.

“This changes the entire energy paradigm that has dominated U.S. economic and national security policies for nearly 50 years,” Matthews said. “Many of the laws passed in the mid-1970s after the Arab oil embargo—for instance, CAFE standards, support for ethanol, etc.—were enacted to free the United States from dependence on foreign oil, which it largely is not anymore.

“There is a huge difference between a world where the United States had to go hat in hand to other countries hoping they will sell us the oil we need and one in which other countries must come to us,” Matthews said.

U.S. energy dominance will make the world a much better place, says Matthews.

“The global economy is going to be powered by fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, and with the United States dominating energy markets rather than Russia or the Middle East, it is likely to be a more peaceful and prosperous world,” Matthews said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.