US Could Export More Oil Than OPEC Countries In 2017

Andrew Follett | Energy and Science Reporter

The U.S. may export more oil in 2017 than four OPEC member states produce, according to a survey of energy analysts by Bloomberg.

The U.S. is already outproducing Libya, Qatar, Ecuador and Gabon; in 2017, U.S. companies could ship more oil overseas than those OPEC nation pump out of the ground, according to Bloomberg.

“The United States has dramatically increased energy production and use even as emissions continue to decline,” Reid Porter, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute (API), told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“For the first time in our lifetime, we can now say that North America has the potential to become a net energy exporter,” Porter said. “That’s a revolutionary change, a significant shift from where we were just a few short years ago.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects oil production to top nine million barrels a day in 2017. The U.S. surpassed both Saudi Arabia and Russia in 2015 as the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of oil.

“Its like a game of chicken,” Fred Lawrence, vice president of economics at the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), told TheDCNF.

“OPEC of course, we know their only 82 percent compliant and they’ve reduced production by about 1.8 million barrels of oil a day,” Lawrence said. “That helps put a floor on the market. Our more capitalist focused market is reacting rational I guess in the sense of increase the number the number of rigs gradually. They’re becoming more efficient and shrinking to grow.”

Oil exports could boost the U.S. economy by $38 billion, reduce the trade deficit by $22 billion and add 300,000 new jobs by 2020, according to a study by ICF International and API. Another study by the Aspen Institute estimates exporting oil could keep the U.S. as the world’s largest oil producer while creating up to 1.48 million jobs.

“When you look at the 2014 numbers, they were very encouraging,” Lawrence told TheDCNF. “We’ve done studies showing that direct jobs, indirect jobs, and induced jobs will grow. There will be more jobs overall. That big structural change of being able to export every molecule of crude oil is very important.”

U.S. oil production soared due to increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling. In 2007, America imported about 60 percent of its oil, but by 2014, the U.S. only imported 27 percent of its oil — that’s the lowest level since 1985, according to government data.

However, U.S. oil imports likely won’t fall much further, even if oil exports increase, as many oil refineries in the country are designed to process the relatively cheap high-sulfur and high-density oil produced in Canada and parts of the Middle East and Latin America.

“This is roughly where we’ll be on imports for quite some time, ” Lawrence said. “The big difference is the amount we’ll export. In 2002 we exported 9,000 barrels a day on average. In 2016 through November, the average was 527,000 barrels a day. When you include all the products like gasoline, that’s an order of magnitude larger.”

America is even exporting crude oil to other countries, including OPEC members, after repealing a ban on exports last December. Venezuela, a member of OPEC, has been forced by its failing economy to accept its first shipment of American crude oil last February, despite having some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves.

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