Date
26 September 2017
OPEC crude exports to the US have been dwindling thanks to a shale gas revolution in the world's second largest oil consumer. Photo: Reuters
OPEC crude exports to the US have been dwindling thanks to a shale gas revolution in the world's second largest oil consumer. Photo: Reuters

US oil imports from OPEC at 30-year low

United States imports of crude oil from OPEC are at their lowest in almost 30 years, underlining the impact of the country’s shale gas production on the global crude market.

Advances in hydraulic fracturing have propelled domestic US production to about nine million barrels a day, the highest since the mid-1980s, reducing dependence on the cartel which pumps one-third of world daily output.

In August, OPEC’s share of US crude oil imports dropped to 40 per cent – accounting for 2.9 millins barrel per day – the lowest since May 1985, the Financial Times reporting Monday, citing its own analysis of US energy. At its 1976 peak it stood at about 88 per cent.

The decline in US appetite for foreign oil, alongside expanding eastern demand, has meant producers from the Middle East, west Africa and Latin America have turned towards Asia.

However, despite the shale boom reducing its oil-import dependency, the US remains the world’s second largest net oil importer after China.

The impact of the shale boom on OPEC members has varied, with African countries such as Algeria and Libya being hit the hardest while Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have remained fairly strong.

“It has been Africa that has been severely squeezed,” said Paul Horsnell, an analyst at Standard Chartered.

Nigeria, which produces crude similar to the quality pumped out of North Dakota’s oilfields, has been the biggest victim of the US shale boom. Barrels stopped flowing altogether in July, having reached a 1979 peak of 1.37 million barrels per day.

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