In a first, gas and other fuels are top US export
NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time, the top export of the United States, the world’s biggest gas guzzler, is — wait for it — fuel.
Measured in dollars, the nation is on pace this year to ship more gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel than any other single export, according to U.S. Census data going back to 1990. It will also be the first year in more than 60 that America has been a net exporter of these fuels.
Just how big of a shift is this? A decade ago, fuel wasn’t even among the top 25 exports. And for the last five years, America’s top export was aircraft.
The trend is significant because for decades the U.S. has relied on huge imports of fuel from Europe in order to meet demand. It only reinforced the image of America as an energy hog. And up until a few years ago, whenever gasoline prices climbed, there were complaints in Congress that U.S. refiners were not growing quickly enough to satisfy domestic demand; that controversy would appear to be over.
Still, the U.S. is nowhere close to energy independence. America is still the world’s largest importer of crude oil. From January to October, the country imported 2.7 billion barrels of oil worth roughly $280 billion.
The U.S. is also the #3 producer of oil, despite controlling only 2% of the world’s reserves. </snark>
For a good while, commenters on my diaries refused to believe that the problem with energy prices was not limited access, or overregulation, or hostile government policies. No, the problem was not enough refineries. I hope that canard has quacked its last.
I’ve followed your posts over at Redstate since the vladimir days – I appreciate your sholarship in this area. My own education was nuclear (Ga Tech 1986), but rarely keep up with that industry, as it was so depressed when I graduated that I crossed over into wood products.
A thought on your post: Is it simplistic on my part to assume that some of the efforts (foreign and domestic) invested in keeping us from harvesting and refining our own reserves is due to the fact that it would mean that a few large overseas producers would be left with no refining “home” for their own crude and, hence, suffer a significant hit to their economic and political influence over us?
Curious as to your thoughts on that.
All the best,
Not sure I fully understand your question, but here goes…
I think the National Oil Cos. who are the primary owners of reserves are motivated to protect market share for their production. My guess is that is where they make most of their money. When OPEC was dominant, there was some thought that they were controlling price, keeping it too low for U.S. producers to develop aggressively. They don’t enjoy that kind of dominance now.
Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are owners of U.S. refining capacity. PdVSA owns Citgo & Aramco is partners with Shell in Motiva. That guarantees each a share of the gasoline market.
The U.S. integrated majors scramble to keep access to crude to keep their refineries operating at capacity/peak efficiency. To the extent there is more refining capacity than domestic demand, they’re not going to cut back, they’ll export.
Thanks for reading & thanks for your comments.
Sorry I wasn’t as clear as I could have been – where I was going was to suggest that foreign and domestic opponents of our developing of our domestic oil supply were in opposition, in part, because they rely on our refineries to process their crude – if we pull more from the ground, they wind up getting less oil processed into [fill in the blank as appropriate] and hence they make fewer billions…
I think you covered that with this:
“Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are owners of U.S. refining capacity. PdVSA owns Citgo & Aramco is partners with Shell in Motiva. That guarantees each a share of the gasoline market.”
I think you got it!
Thanks for the explanation.
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