U.S. Forecast to Rival Saudi Arabia as World’s Top Oil Exporter by 2024

March 11, 2019, 11:50 AM UTC

The United States could overtake Russia and rival Saudi Arabia in terms of crude oil exports by 2024, according to a new forecast from the International Energy Agency.

Gross exports from Russia and Saudi Arabia are expected to hold steady at current levels of more than 8 million barrels per day and more than 9 million barrels per day, respectively, while the U.S. increases exports from 4.5 million in 2018 to nearly 6 million this year and more than 8 million barrels per day in 2021.

The IEA said it expects world demand for oil to grow at an average annual rate of 1.2 million barrels a day through 2024, reaching 106.4 million barrels a day.

President Donald Trump has made cutting U.S. reliance on foreign oil a rallying cry, even as environmentalists would prefer less dependence on fossil fuels.

In February, the U.S. exported a record amount of crude oil — 3.6 million barrels per day — and became the world’s biggest oil producer, producing more than 12 million barrels per day. In the IEA forecast, the U.S. accounts for 70% of the total increase in global capacity through 2024.

Much of that is thanks to shale oil production, commonly called fracking. Shale production has skyrocketed from less than 1 million barrels per day in 2010 to 7 million barrels per day today.

“The second wave of the U.S. shale revolution is coming,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. “It will see the United States account for 70% of the rise in global oil production and some 75% of the expansion in (liquid natural gas) trade over the next five years. This will shake up international oil and gas trade flows, with profound implications for the geopolitics of energy.”

The U.S. was briefly a net oil exporter in November 2018, shipping out more than it imports, but government analysts say the U.S. won’t be able to steadily claim that title until at least September 2020. The IEA expects it to happen in 2021.

The U.S. is already a net exporter of coal and natural gas. The Energy Information Administration expects the U.S. to become an overall net energy exporter this year, which it will remain until 2050.

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