The U.S.' monthly petroleum exports exceeded imports for the first time on record during the month of September, the country's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a statement on Thursday.
In September 2019, the U.S. exported 89,000 barrels per day (bpd) more petroleum, which includes crude oil and petroleum products, than it imported. This marked the first month on record that petroleum exports came higher than imports since monthly records began in 1973.
By comparison, the U.S. was importing 10 million bpd more petroleum than it was exporting in 2009, according to the EIA.
"Long-running changes in U.S. trade patterns for both crude oil and petroleum products have resulted in a steady decrease in overall U.S. net petroleum imports," the statement said.
Although the U.S. currently imports more crude oil than it exports, it exports more petroleum products than it imports, a result of high levels of refining, and this creates a net total of petroleum exports, it added.
"U.S. refineries responded to increasing domestic and international demand for petroleum products, such as distillate fuel, motor gasoline, and jet fuel, by increasing throughput," the statement said.
"Gross inputs into U.S. refineries rose from an annual average of 14.6 million bpd in 2009 to 17.0 million bpd through the third quarter of 2019, and they have regularly set new monthly record highs," it added.
- Rise in crude production, exports
The steep increase in U.S. crude oil production also played a role in the decline of crude oil imports to the country.
Crude oil output of the U.S. rose from an average of 5.3 million bpd in 2009 to 12.1 million bpd this year through September, the EIA said.
This caused a decline in the U.S.' crude oil imports from an average of 9 million bpd to 7 million bpd during the same period, it added.
In December 2015, after former U.S. President Barack Obama lifted the 40-year-old self-imposed ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil, its crude oil exports soared.
"Since then, U.S. crude oil exports have been the largest contributor to U.S. petroleum export growth," the EIA said, as the country's crude oil exports increased from 591,000 bpd in 2016 to 2.8 million bpd in 2019 through September.
By Ovunc Kutlu in Vienna