The International Energy Agency (IEA), which monitors energy supplies for the world’s richest nations, revealed in its latest report that the United States briefly held the title of top oil exporter over Saudi Arabia and Russia for the first time earlier this year. In June, U.S. crude exports surged above 3 million barrels per day (bpd), boosting total exports of crude and products to nearly 9 million bpd. At the same time, Saudi Arabia cut back on both crude and refined product exports and Russian exports were constrained by pipeline problems.
Booming shale production helped the U.S. take the top spot and become one of the world’s most influential energy producers. Drilling innovations have allowed the U.S. to pump more oil than any other country. U.S. exports were limited in July and August by hurricanes and the Trump administration’s trade war with China, allowing Saudi Arabia to retake the top position, but the IEA expects the U.S. will continue to challenge for dominance.
According to government officials, the U.S. is actively pursuing a position of “energy dominance”. U.S. deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette said in an interview, “The world often asks: what does that mean? It just simply means that we are going to produce as much energy as we can, as cleanly as we can and as affordably as we can. And whatever happens to the world price of oil, whatever happens to the world price of whatever, electricity, it doesn’t really matter, then so be it.”
Oil prices have stumbled in recent months due to concerns about weak demand amid a global economic slowdown. International benchmark Brent crude futures have tumbled more than 18 percent from a peak reached in April, with U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) down over 15 percent over the same period. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that it expects demand growth this year to be the weakest since at least 2011.