For the first time in nearly 60 years, the U.S. is a net exporter of fuel. If you measure it in dollars, the U.S. is set to ship more gas, diesel and jet fuel than any other export. This is a big shift for the nation as just a decade ago, fuel wasn’t in the top 25 of exports. And the last five years, aircraft have been the top export.
Having fuel as a top export is a major shift for the nation as we have relied heavily on imports from Europe in the past to meet demand. This should also curb sentiment that U.S. refineries are not growing fast enough for domestic demand.
Now this doesn’t mean the U.S. is energy independent, we are far from it. We still import the most crude oil of any other country and for the first 10 months this year we imported 2.7 billion barrels of oil.
Fuel exports are up for a variety of reasons but the most important one is price. Oil prices now are around $100 a barrel and gasoline is around $3.50. A decade ago the price of oil was around $26 a barrel and gas cost $1.40 a gallon on average. Another reason is better fuel economy on newer vehicles.
U.S. fuel exports have also grown thanks to emerging economies in Latin America and Asia who are using more fuel as their people buy more cars.
It was all the way back in 1949 when the U.S. exported more fuel than it imported. Back then, the U.S. exported 86 million barrels and imported 82 million barrels. Fast forward to today and we’ve exported 848 million barrels and imported 750 million barrels.