From 1984 to 2000, energy exports grew from 264 million barrels to 380 million barrels. This rate of growth would be impressive in its own right, if it were not so dwarfed by the massive increase that followed. From 2000 to 2016, exports grew from 380 million barrels to 1.9 billion barrels in 2016. Put another way, total exports finally broke through the 500 million barrel in 2007, and they might reach 2 billion a decade later.
Moving to the individual destination countries offers yet more insight into how the U.S. energy sector has developed. U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico were the top two destinations for crude oil and petroleum product exports. In the early years of the 2000s Mexico accounted for more than 34 percent of these exports, and Canada another 11 percent. Even as the total number of exports increased significantly over time, Mexico and Canada only accounted for 35 percent of these exports in 2016. Canada finally surpassed Mexico to become the biggest destination for these exports in 2013 and remains there today.
Below the top two spots, the rest of the top 10 countries for exports showed a higher variation. In part this dynamic is due to the substantial total growth. The second-largest export destination in 2000, Canada with about 40 million barrels would be 13th in terms of export amount in 2016. Looking at the top 10 destinations for 2016 reveals the truly global reach of U.S. crude oil and petroleum product exports. Aside from the two U.S. neighbors, the list is rounded out by the Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, China, Chile, Colombia, Singapore, and India. The mixture of emerging and developed countries around the globe underscores the importance of trade agreements that open those markets to U.S. energy exports, and the corresponding development of energy transportation infrastructure that will help domestically-produced oil and petroleum products get to their final destination.
While the growth of the U.S. energy industry is a success story, it is easy to look to other countries and see the price of mismanagement and poor public policy. Venezuela, which has some of the most abundant natural resources in the world, has seen its oil production decline to the lowest point in three decades, aside from a brief dip during a failed coup attempt disrupted operations in 2002. The country has had to resort to importing crude oil from Russia for its refineries due to a lack of domestic production.
U.S. domestic energy production and exports have recently seen a period of unprecedented growth. These developments have helped American consumers maintain access to abundant, affordable energy, and generated millions of direct and indirect jobs and billions of dollars in investment. Maintaining a regulatory and policy framework that allows for development and innovation in the energy industry is vital to its continued success.
The interactive below allows you to see how U.S. crude oil and petroleum product exports have evolved since 2000. You can also select a year and highlight selected countries. The top 10 export destinations are displayed for each year.
Charles Hughes is a policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter @CharlesHHughes. Joshua Hardman is a contributor to Economics 21.
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Visualization made with Flourish