US set to become world's top oil exporter, surpassing Saudi Arabia

Boosted by shale poduction, the US overtook Saudi to become No.1 in June for a brief period. After losing the spot in July and August, it looks to take lead again.


                            US set to become world's top oil exporter, surpassing Saudi Arabia
(Getty Images)
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In March this year, energy research firm Rystad Energy made a forecast that the United States would soon topple Saudi Arabia as the biggest exporter of oil and liquids. The remarkable achievement was made possible by the steady rise in oil production from US shale plays and rise in oil export capacity in the Gulf Coast region. The firm also said that this was unprecedented since the West Asian Kingdom started selling oil overseas in the 1950s. Rystad Energy’s prediction came true as the US pipped Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s top exporter for the first time in June this year. America’s crude exports topped three million barrels daily in June, as per the International Energy Agency (IEA), and it pushed its total oil exports to nearly nine million barrels per day.

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The Saudis, on the other hand, slashed exports of crude and other energy products as part of the OPEC’s (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) long-standing price-boosting efforts. The Russians faced problems in their exports because of logistical reasons. 

US challenges Saudi's top position again

Six months since Rystad’s prediction, the IEA has come up with yet another forecast. It now expects the US to challenge Saudi Arabia’s position as the world’s leading oil exporter once again. Riyadh reclaimed the No.1 position from Washington in July and August as the US found itself coping with natural disasters, the Paris-based agency said. The IEA also added that the ongoing trade dispute also hit its shipments from finding new markets, allowing competitors to surge ahead. 

“Booming shale production has allowed the U.S. to close in on, and briefly overtake, Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil exporter,” the IEA said in its monthly report on Thursday, September 12.

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With Riyadh continuing to curb and the IEA saying America’s crude exports could see a rise by a further 33% from June levels to as much as 4 million barrels a day, the tussle for the the No. 1 slot looks tight in the months ahead. 

“The installation of the necessary pipelines and terminals is continuing apace, which will ensure that the trend continues.”

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The IEA's monthly report surfaces at a time when the US has been seen actively pursuing “energy dominance”, regardless of the oil prices. US Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told CNBC last week in Abu Dhabi that President Donald Trump often shares his thoughts on energy dominance with him.

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