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Energy trade represents key part of overall US trade flows

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US was a net importer of goods and a net exporter of services in 2013. Energy accounted for 15% of gross US goods imports in 2013, while energy exports, which have grown significantly in recent years, accounted for 7% of overall US goods exports.

The value of energy fuel exports had increased 8% relative to 2012, while the value of energy fuel imports fell 11%. Given the prominent role of energy fuels in US trade accounts, this shift pushed the total US trade deficit in 2013 to the lowest level in four years.

Net energy imports account for nearly half of this deficit in 2013.

Crude oil was the largest single US import by value in 2013, and has been for many years.

In 2013, the value of the US energy imports was 19% below its year ago level, falling fro US$ 304 billion to US$ 246 billion. A number of factors contributed to the decreased value of net energy imports, including:

  • A 16% decrease in the value of net crude oil imports, from US$ 310 billion to US$ 268 billion.
  • A 55% increase in the value of net exports of fuel oil and other refined petroleum products, from US$ 21 billion to US$ 33 billion.
  • A 14% decrease in the value of net natural gas imports, from US$ 10.3 billion to US$ 8.8 billion.
  • A 16% decrease in the dollar value of net coal exports, from US$ 3.9 billion to US$ 3.2 billion.

Net energy imports as a share of total US energy consumption have decreased from 30% in 2006 to less than 20% in 2012. In the 2014 Annual Energy Outlook reference case projections, net energy imports as a share of total US energy consumption fall to 6% by 2020 and to 3% by 2035.

The EIA predicts that increasing onshore oil and natural gas production, aided by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, will allow the US to continue to reduce its net imports of crude oil and increase refined product exports (such as diesel fuel to Europe) and become a net natural gas exporter later this decade. 

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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