U.S. imports fall to lowest level in 20 years — EIA

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014

U.S. energy imports plunged to their lowest level in more than two decades last year and exports climbed thanks to a booming domestic oil and gas industry, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said today.Rising petroleum production at home triggered a 19 percent drop in net energy imports in 2013 compared to the previous year, EIA said in its “Today in Energy” brief.”Total energy imports declined faster — down 9 percent from 2012 to 2013 — than in the previous year, while export growth slowed,” EIA said. “Crude oil production grew 15 percent, about the same pace as in 2012, which led imports of crude oil to decrease by 12 percent, accounting for much of the overall decline in imports.”

Total gross energy imports dropped below 25 quadrillion British thermal units last year, a fall from highs of almost 35 quadrillion Btu between 2003 and 2006, EIA said.

Exports, on the other hand, ticked over 10 quadrillion Btu, reflecting domestic oil production that has been rising since 2009 (Energywire, Feb. 26).

EIA has reported a pronounced uptick in petroleum exports.

The agency earlier this year predicted that domestic U.S. production of oil would grow by 0.8 million barrels per day through 2016, then level off and start declining slowly at the end of this decade. Measuring by value, the report concludes, crude imports were down 16 percent in 2013 from 2012.

The latest EIA report comes as debates rage on and off Capitol Hill over potential exports of oil and gas.

Most discussions are currently focused on proposals to export liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said in a hearing last week that it’s time the United States claims a place as an “energy superpower” and vowed to scrutinize the Energy Department’s review of two dozen pending LNG export projects.

In that hearing, EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski tried to ease concerns over effects of energy exports on manufacturing and costs voiced by Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Sieminski said gas supplies should be sufficient to fuel both the U.S. manufacturing sector and exports (Greenwire, March 25).