It’s time for a little break from the drudgery of spreadsheets.
I can't resist on commenting on this misleading story in the WSJ, titled: "U.S. NEARS MILESTONE: NET FUEL EXPORTER"
The article is behind a pay wall, so I only have what was quoted in today's (11/30/2011) edition of ASPO-USA's Peak Oil News, but that was enough:
U.S. exports of gasoline, diesel and other oil-based fuels are soaring, putting the nation on track to be a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.
A combination of booming demand from emerging markets and faltering domestic activity means the U.S. is exporting more fuel than it imports, upending the historical norm.
According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday, the U.S. sent abroad 753.4 million barrels of everything from gasoline to jet fuel in the first nine months of this year, while it imported 689.4 million barrels.
That the U.S. is shipping out more fuel than it brings in is significant because the nation has for decades been a voracious energy consumer. It took in huge quantities of not only crude oil from the Middle East but also refined fuels from Europe, Latin America and elsewhere to help run its factories and cars.
I will also note that the story is similar to this one in May 2011:
In February, the
exported 54,000 more barrels of petroleum products each day than it purchased abroad, with diesel and finished petrol leading the increase. According to the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, U.S. refined product exports rose in the first quarter of 2011 to 2.49 million barrels per day, a 24.4 percent year-over-year increase, the Financial Times reports. U.S.
In the first quarter of 2011, imports dropped to 2.26 million barrels a day, a 14.4 percent year-over-year decline, according to the FT.
This might seem like realy good news: the first time since 1949, or 1991 depending on which story you believe, the
is a net exporter!! WOW, all those peak oilers were so full of it; its time to go out and buy that new SUV! USA
Many of the comments at the WSJ site agreed with this view point.
Some of the comments had a different take: they complained that this just meant that American were consuming so much less fuel than in previous years, and, that's why there are now net fuel exports.
Only a very few comments recognized how misleading the article was.
The WSJ article does note, correctly, that its been 62 years, 1949, since the USA was a net exporter—of unrefined "crude oil" See e.g., Figure 11 of Trends in USA Petroleum Production and Consumption, reproduced below:
As you can see from this figure, there is just no way that the
However, rather than talking about crude oil, the article appears to be presenting data on barrels of refined oil products, such as, "gasoline to jet fuel."
The quoted exports of refined oil products of 753.5 million barrels over 9 months (about 270 days) works out to be about 2.8 million barrels per day (mbd). The quoted imports of refined oil products of 689.4 million barrels over 9 months equals about 2.6 mbd.
So we are talking about a net difference of only about 0.2 mbd? How important is this to the
And, does this now mean that after 61 years, the
is now free of foreign oil imports? USA
My Answers: Not very important, and no, it does not.
To gain some perspective on these numbers, let’s take a look at this portion of Figure 5.1b from the EIA's Annual Energy Review 2010, , publically released on October 19, 2011.
The big news is that for the first nine month of 2011 refined oil products exports are up slightly and refined oil products imports are down slightly, thereby causing a crossover. It looks like the last time this happened was in 1957, 54 years ago.
Here’s yet another perspective, from Figure 5.0 of the EIA's Annual Energy Review 2010.
That thin sliver at the top right of the figure is what these stories are talking about.
But, according to this figure in 2010, the
imported 9.16 mbd of crude oil and exported 2.17 mbd of refined oil products. Moreover, domestic consumption of refined oil products was 19.15 mbd. USA
Not much will have changed in 2011.
So, the 0.2 mbd net difference implied by the WSJ figures is only about one percent of the
’s refined products consumption in 2010. Excuse me if I don't do back flips over one percent. USA
Despite the rhetoric of the story, the
is still a strong net importer of crude oil. With 5.51 mbd of domestic crude production, and 9.17 of crude oil imports, 62 percent (9.17/(5.51+9.17)) USA
crude is imported. USA
This is not likely to change any time soon.