No, Senators, the United States Is Not Currently a Net Oil Exporting Country

On Monday, a group of 11 U.S. Senators wrote a letter to President Biden complaining about the high price of gasoline. Like the Secretary of Energy, these Senators get some basic facts wrong about the oil market in the United States and around the world. In this case, the Senators are wrong because the United States has been a net oil importer this year.   

The Senators correctly note that high prices burden families. They write: 

“According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline is the highest it has been since 2014, with an increase of more than $1 per gallon since this time last year. In our home states, high gasoline prices have placed an undue burden on families and small businesses trying to make ends meet, and have proven especially burdensome as our constituents continue to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

This is correct. But what they get completely wrong is blaming U.S. oil exports as a problem. They blame “domestic leaseholders and producers [who] continue to export U.S. petroleum, threaten[ing] to send already record prices even higher. Continued U.S. exports and overseas supply collusion could be devastating to many in our states, contributing to higher bills for American families and businesses.”

First, a quick note on terms. Generally, when people talk about “oil” and U.S. oil imports and exports, they are almost always referring to petroleum and petroleum products, such as what is included in the Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Overview. But “oil” can also refer to “crude oil.” This matters in this context, because according to EIA’s data here, the United States has never been a net exporter of crude oil. As shown below, the United States has been a net exporter of petroleum.   

In fact, just last year, the United States was a net petroleum exporter, however, so far this year it has been a net petroleum importer, not an exporter. Here’s the latest petroleum data from the Energy Information Administration in thousand barrels per day.   

Every month, the United States imports and exports some oil as well as refined petroleum products. The United States was a net exporter of petroleum in January, February and April, but otherwise this year it has been a net importer of petroleum. To suggest that oil prices are high because of petroleum exports is to ignore the data. 

If these Senators and President Biden are concerned about the price of gasoline, then it’s time to push for more domestic production instead of attacking domestic oil and gas producers. That means more safe and dependable pipelines and a stable and predictable leasing system on federal lands. OPEC+ has stated their intention of not ramping up their oil exports to combat globally high prices. OPEC+ countries, after all, are happy making billions of dollars with oil above $80 a barrel. Russia is happy to have become the #2 importer of oil into the United States this year. But the United States is the world’s largest oil producer. And as we have previously shown, over the past decade, as oil prices have moderated, the biggest supplier of new oil on the international market was the United States. It’s time to stop attacking domestic oil producers and start reducing the hurdles to higher domestic oil production. That would truly help American businesses and consumers. 

Speak Your Mind


Anonymous says:
Your email has been received. Thank you for signing up.