U.S. Becomes Net Oil Exporter for First Time Since Truman Presidency

An oil refinery in Big Spring, Texas. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

After three-quarters of a century relying more heavily on foreign oil, the United States became a net oil exporter in 2018, a step toward what President Donald Trump calls "energy independence."

During his campaign, Trump told voters that "Under my presidency, we will accomplish a complete American energy independence. Complete. Complete."

The shift toward exporting more U.S.-refined oil than the country imports reflects increased oil production in areas such as Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

Michael Lynch, the president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, said the United States is becoming dominant in the world of energy.

"We are becoming the dominant energy power in the world," Lynch said. "But, because the change is gradual over time, I don’t think it’s going to cause a huge revolution, but you do have to think that OPEC is going to have to take that into account when they think about cutting."

Last week, the U.S. sold a net 211,000 barrels of crude and refined oil per day. The last time the U.S. was a net oil exporter, President Harry S. Truman was in the White House.

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While the U.S. still imports more than 7 million barrels a day of crude from all over the globe, exports are expected to rise further as new pipelines and terminals are created.

U.S. crude exports are poised to rise even further, with new pipelines from the Permian in the works and at least nine terminals planned that will be capable of loading supertankers. The only facility currently able to load the largest ships, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, is on pace to load more oil in December than it has in any other month.

The massive Permian may be even bigger than previously thought. The Delaware Basin, the less drilled part of the field, holds more than twice the amount of crude as its sister, the Midland Basin, the U.S. Geological Service said Thursday.