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US crude oil, petroleum net imports reach record low in 2019

U.S. crude oil and petroleum net imports declined for the third consecutive year to 1.0 million barrels per day in 2019 to set another record low, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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For the first time on record, crude oil trade drove the entire decline in net imports as crude oil net imports declined 2.0 million bbl/d to 3.9 million bbl/d and petroleum net exports declined 131,000 bbl/d to 2.8 million bbl/d. At 1.9 million bbl/d, 2019's decline in crude oil and petroleum net imports marks the largest on record.

In the week ended Nov. 30, 2018, the U.S. exported more crude oil and petroleum than it imported for the first time on record. That happened nine more times in 2019, including the week ended Dec. 27, 2019, when the U.S. set a record for net exports of 1.7 million bbl/d.

Year-to-date through the end of August 2019, U.S. crude oil imports from OPEC countries were down 40.9% year over year to 1.57 million bbl/d, with imports from Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer, falling 34.1% and imports from Venezuela falling 75%.

The decline in U.S. imports from OPEC countries reflects both production cuts that OPEC members agreed to in December 2018 to support crude oil prices and U.S. foreign policy. At the end of January 2019, the U.S. hit Venezuela with sanctions, seeking to block the flow of oil revenues to Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro's regime. By June 2019, U.S. oil imports from Venezuela had fallen to zero. As oil imports from OPEC members fell, oil imports from non-OPEC countries climbed slightly.

Meanwhile, most of the increase in U.S. crude oil exports flowed to Asia and Europe, with exports to the Asia-Pacific region climbing 39.2% to 1.37 million bbl/d.

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