Updated Mar 16, 2018 - Energy & Environment

America’s oil-export boom is one for the history books

America is exporting its oil at a record never before seen in history.

Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: That straight line upward, highlighted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration Wednesday, reflects one of the most dramatic turnarounds of an industry that affects so many corners of the American and global economies, from trade deficits to everyday drivers.

By the numbers:

  • Fueled by fracking and horizontal drilling, America is on track to produce a record 10.7 million barrels of oil per day this year, surpassing its 1970 record of 9.6 million and more than double the production levels of a decade ago.
  • In late 2015, Congress lifted America’s 40-year-old ban on oil exports, opening the gates for this export trend, which was already underway for refined petroleum products.
  • The EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, predicts America is on track to become a net energy exporter in just four years.
  • America’s net oil imports are at a record low of roughly 2.6 million barrels a day, down from a record high of 13.4 million in 2006.
  • Gasoline prices, which are mostly driven by the cost of oil, are also lower (though not breaking records). Dropping precipitously along with the oil prices in 2014, prices at the pump have hovered around $2.50 a gallon since then.
  • The last time gasoline prices were steady at this price was 2006, excluding the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

One level deeper: The chart shows yearly averages, and we can already expect 2018 to be another record-breaking year. Some weekly averages of oil exports have already broken the 2 million mark, as Axios' Ben Geman highlighted in this piece a few weeks ago.

Yes, but: America's oil-export boom is an impressive growth story, but it still pales in comparison when it comes to actual export levels. For example, Saudi Arabia exports roughly 7 million barrels of oil a day.

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