It has already been predicted that the US will soon become the world’s top oil producer, but the country is also the world’s largest consumer of oil. This situation has meant it has generally been a big net importer of crude oil and refined oil products, especially after US oil production began
its decline in the 1970s.
That may change, however, because Citigroup now says that it expects the US to edge out Saudi Arabia and become the world’s top oil exporter. Last week, the US exported a record-breaking 8.3 million barrels per day (bpd), putting it ahead of Russia’s 7.4 million bpd in January and within sight of the 9.3 million bpd reported for Saudi Arabia.
The projection from Citigroup is based on combining the exports for crude oil and refined products, but this seems reasonable given the US’s extensive downstream capacity. While crude often ends up being refined into fuel, much of it also ends up as other products, such as hydraulic oils like Mobil DTE 24.
The divergence in prices between the London-based Brent crude benchmark and the US-based West Texas Intermediate (WTI) equivalent is said to be partly driving the increase in exports. The lower price of WTI is especially beneficial for Asian refineries, because it can be used to make more valuable refined products. There has also been a shift away traditional exporter Saudi Arabia by consumers like China amid claims that Arab Light Crude is not currently priced competitively.