The US is projected to export more energy than it imports by 2020 as crude oil, natural gas and natural gas plant liquids production outpaces consumption.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US began exporting more natural gas than it imports in 2017 and is projected to export more petroleum and other liquids than it imports within the decade.
Since 1953, the US has imported more energy than it exports on an annual basis when trade volumes were much smaller. Since then, when imports of energy totalled 2.3 quadrillion British thermal units, gross energy imports generally grew, reaching a peak of 35 quadrillion Btu in 2005.
Gross energy exports were as low as four quadrillion Btu as recently as 2002 but have since risen to more than 20 quadrillion Btu in 2018, mainly due to changes in liquid fuels and natural gas trade.
EIA’s projected changes in net energy trade are driven mostly by evolving trade flows of liquid fuels and natural gas. According to the administration’s reference case in its Annual Energy Outlook, the US exports more petroleum and other liquids than it imports after 2020 as US crude oil production increases and domestic consumption of petroleum products decreases.
Near the end of the projection period, the US returns to importing more petroleum and other liquids than it exports due to increasing domestic gasoline consumption and falling domestic crude oil production in those years.
In the AEO reference case, which takes into account current laws and regulations, the US begins exporting more energy than it imports on an annual basis in 2020 and maintains that status through 2050.