• Tony Zelinski

The United States is expected to export more energy than it imports by 2020


US Net Energy Trade 1990-2050

EIA projects that, for the first time since the 1950s, the United States will export more energy than it imports by 2020 as increases in crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas plant liquids production outpace growth in U.S. energy consumption. Different assumptions about crude oil prices and resource extraction affect how long EIA projects that the United States will export more energy than it imports. The United States has been a net exporter of coal and coke for decades, began exporting more natural gas than it imports in 2017, and is projected to export more petroleum and other liquids than it imports within the decade.


The United States has imported more energy than it exports on an annual basis since 1953, when trade volumes were much smaller. Since then, when imports of energy totaled 2.3 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), gross energy imports generally grew, reaching a peak of 35 quadrillion Btu in 2005. Gross energy exports were as low as 4 quadrillion Btu as recently as 2002 but have since risen to more than 20 quadrillion Btu in 2018, largely because of changes in liquid fuels and natural gas trade.


EIA’s projected changes in net energy trade are driven mostly by evolving trade flows of liquid fuels and natural gas.

In the Reference case of EIA’s newly released Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), the United States exports more petroleum and other liquids than it imports after 2020 as U.S. crude oil production increases and domestic consumption of petroleum products decreases. Near the end of the projection period, the United States returns to importing more petroleum and other liquids than it exports on an energy basis as a result of increasing domestic gasoline consumption and falling domestic crude oil production in those years. Read more



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