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The U.S. hits a new milestone in net petroleum exports

The U.S. has been a net exporter of petroleum products for a consecutive four weeks on a four-week average basis, per Energy Information Administration data released Wednesday.

Why it matters: EIA analyst Mason Hamilton noted via Twitter that it's the first time the U.S. has been a net exporter by that metric. It has previously happened for shorter stretches.

  • "The era of U.S. net petroleum exports HAS BEGUN! (or at least is highly [likely] to)," he noted on his personal account.

The big picture: The U.S. emergence as a net exporter of petroleum products — the combo of crude oil, gasoline, natural gas plant liquids, diesel and more — on an ongoing basis has been forecast for some time.

  • On some level, it's an arbitrary metric, because the U.S. still imports millions of barrels of crude oil per day — but the amounts have fallen as U.S. production has surged over the last decade.

The bottom line: While the U.S. has long shipped lots of products like gasoline abroad, declining crude oil imports and rising crude exports have enabled the inflection point.