In A First, Gas And Other Fuels Are Top U.S. Export

For the first time, the top export of the United States, the world's biggest gas guzzler, is - wait for it - fuel.

Measured in dollars, the nation is on pace this year to ship more gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel than any other single export, according to U.S. Census data going back to 1990. It will also be the first year in more than 60 that America has been a net exporter of these fuels.

Just how big of a shift is this? A decade ago, fuel wasn't even among the top 25 exports. And for the last five years, America's top export was aircraft.

The trend is significant because for decades the U.S. has relied on huge imports of fuel from Europe in order to meet demand. It only reinforced the image of America as an energy hog. And up until a few years ago, whenever gasoline prices climbed, there were complaints in Congress that U.S. refiners were not growing quickly enough to satisfy domestic demand; that controversy would appear to be over.

Still, the U.S. is nowhere close to energy independence. America is still the world's largest importer of crude oil. From January to October, the country imported 2.7 billion barrels of oil worth roughly $280 billion.

Fuel exports, worth an estimated $88 billion in 2011, have surged for two reasons:

- Crude oil, the raw material from which gasoline and other refined products are made, is a lot more expensive. Oil prices averaged $95 a barrel in 2011, while gasoline averaged $3.52 a gallon - a record. A decade ago oil averaged $26 a barrel, while gasoline averaged $1.44 a gallon.

- The volume of fuel exports is rising. The U.S. is using less fuel because of a weak economy and more efficient cars and trucks. That allows refiners to sell more fuel to rapidly growing economies in Latin America, for example. In 2011, U.S. refiners exported 117 million gallons per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products, up from 40 million gallons per day a decade earlier.

There's at least one domestic downside to America's growing role as a fuel exporter. Experts say the trend helps explain why U.S. motorists are paying more for gasoline. The more fuel that's sent overseas, the less of a supply cushion there is at home.

Gasoline supplies are being exported to the highest bidder, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. "It's a world market," he says.

Refining companies won't say how much they make by selling fuel overseas. But analysts say those sales are likely generating higher profits per gallon than they would have generated in the U.S. Otherwise, they wouldn't occur.

The value of U.S. fuel exports has grown steadily over the past decade, coinciding with rising oil prices and increased demand around the globe.

Developing countries in Latin America and Asia have been burning more gasoline and diesel as their people buy more cars and build more roads and factories. Europe also has been buying more U.S. fuel to make up for its lack of refineries.

And there's a simple reason why America's refiners have been eager to export to these markets: gasoline demand in the U.S. has been falling every year since 2007. It dropped by another 2.5 percent in 2011. With the economy struggling, motorists cut back. Also, cars and trucks have become more fuel-efficient and the government mandates the use of more corn-based ethanol fuel.

The last time the U.S. was a net exporter of fuels was 1949, when Harry Truman was president. That year, the U.S. exported 86 million barrels and imported 82 million barrels. In the first ten months of 2011, the nation exported 848 million barrels (worth $73.4 billion) and imported 750 million barrels.

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  • by Debra Location: Vanceboro on Jan 3, 2012 at 08:18 AM
    If we are exporting so much fuel. Wouldn't it make more sence to keep more for our own consumption and bring down our high fuel costs? Or are the fuel company's more interested in higher profits than helping us reduce our fuel costs?
  • by TJ on Jan 3, 2012 at 03:33 AM
    "All,too,will bearin mind this sacred principle,that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful,must be reasonable;that the minority possess their equal rights,which equal laws must protect,and to violate which would be oppression."Thomas Jefferson would be appalled to know that a "minority" has taken over the will of the majority. He would call it oppression.
  • by Norma Location: Bath on Jan 2, 2012 at 06:25 PM
    Internet News why is the Dem Lib Obama media not reporting this news story? In a scathing statement, the head of the ACLU, and other leading civil liberties and human rights groups who were among President Obama’s most ardent supporters, said that the President’s decision to sign a sprawling defense bill which includes controversial detainee provisions would tarnish his presidency. While voicing reservations, Obama reportedly signed the act because it guarantees continued military funding.
    • reply
      by TJ on Jan 3, 2012 at 03:34 AM in reply to Norma
      This story was covered. Apparently you were busy on the net and missed it.
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jan 5, 2012 at 01:51 PM in reply to Norma
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Jan 2, 2012 at 10:13 AM
    Demorat Libitards, above all, hate America. Lets look at the Keystone Pipeline, that would create 1000's of high paying yes even union jobs. It is actually good for the people to see President Obama and the Demorat Party opposing the Keystone Pipeline. It should finally show people that Libitards do not care about creating jobs. If Obama and Demorats really cared about jobs and the middle class, then they would be all for this pipeline. The Demorats oppose it right from the get go. Why? Again, it’s good for America! And when was the last time a Libitard ever did anything that was good for America? Take your time? One of my predictions for 2012 is that once a Republican is picked to run against Hussein. Who will beat him in 2012 maybe not in a landslide victory. But the Rebublicans will prevail. Investors will be pouring Billions of dollars in to the economy in the form of buying Stocks , Start up small companies who create jobs , Home , Car buying. Consumer confedence will start to return after a Republican is named to run against Obama. The economy will start to slowly return for betters times for all. Even for you Demorat Libitards
    • reply
      by TJ on Jan 3, 2012 at 03:36 AM in reply to Wolfgang
      Keystone pipeline....LOL.. you notice how all the republicans are screaming after the fact. The whole deal was a ploy ..
  • by pete Location: grifton on Jan 2, 2012 at 09:11 AM
    BARHOP if you would take your head out of the sand long enough you would see that the dumb-o-craps have kept the air powered car from India out of the U.S.A mainly by Pelosi the name of the auto giant is TA TA motors a giant car company the articles were printed in popular mechanics magazine the are the size of a mini-van hold 7 people and travel 1,000 miles per air charge no polution and would break big oil.
    • reply
      by 40some on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:16 PM in reply to pete
      They make a truck?
  • by pete Location: grifton on Jan 2, 2012 at 09:03 AM
    Let's change this figure to the most thing exported are illegals,unload our prisons with them take the money saved and build a wall like the berlin wall to keep people out both along the mexican and canadian more refineries import more canadian sand oil and build off shore oil rigs and drill more in Alaska,OH! bye the way how many caribou or grizzly(brown)bears have you been to look at as far as that goes what good are they but for some tree hugging bird watcher to look at.
  • by amy on Jan 2, 2012 at 05:04 AM
    Germany= $9, UK= $8, Japan=$7 per gallon.
    • reply
      by Wharf Rat on Jan 2, 2012 at 07:57 AM in reply to amy
      WECT.COM has an article that says is predicting $5.00 a gal., or close to it, in 2012.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:03 AM
    Assuming the article is true, tax every drop of oil in any form that leaves our shores and use that tax to lower our costs...Oh wait....the GOP will revolt against any tax increases to Big Oil companies, and you thought they had your best interest at heart...Drill baby Drill= more profits for Big Oil. BTW, that Keystone Pipeline is not going to lower any fuel prices, only benefit you know who and what.
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:04 AM
    If it were up to Repugs, there would be no "fuel efficient" cars. They constantly fight lower fuel standards. Come to think of it, if it was up to the Repugs there would be no "American fuel efficient cars" as they want GM and Chrysler to go belly up. We could all be buying gas guzzlying korean cars to drive on our crumbling highways (they are NOt much on building new roads either)
    • reply
      by Ditto on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:02 AM in reply to Barlow
      More than 60 House Republicans want to bar the Obama administration finalizing new rules to hike fuel efficiency standards for the 2017-25
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 10:31 AM in reply to Ditto
        because higher efficency makes costs HIGHER for all Americans. It's a bad time right now to legislate these demands. More government control of all of us.
        • reply
          by 40some on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:15 PM in reply to
          If people driving their 3/4ton suv's would drive something smaller to haul around some groceries or two kids the cheaper gas would be a blessing to myself and all other small businesses in America that are struggling right now.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jan 3, 2012 at 05:09 AM in reply to
          and if you give up your rights to speak freely here or give you your right to vote.... would this still be America ?? I think not. You and I have the RIGHT to drive what WE choose. I will not give up that right like you want to.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:23 AM in reply to Barlow
      But they are for the Middle Class?...ya right!
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jan 2, 2012 at 05:12 AM in reply to Barlow
      Barlow, how is that Chevy Volt doing that you bought from Government Motors? Don't forget, if it catches fire, free rental car for ya. Nice piece of liberal progressive dribble from the king of blatherskite...
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 05:43 PM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        The Model-T was laughed at also, we have got to start somewhere. Your problem is that you are stuck in the past, and love giving all your money to big oil companies.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jan 3, 2012 at 10:07 AM in reply to
          Nope, my problem is I am a engineer and understand that electricity comes from coal and oil too. So with the line losses, it costs more to operate an electric car. A hybrid is the only option right now.
    • reply
      by 40some on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:12 PM in reply to Barlow
      I'm republican. Love my mom's prius. Too bad they don't make a small truck like that to suit my business needs, with the tax credits and all, then being able to write off the vehicle on top of the fuel savings....
  • by Economics Student Location: NC on Jan 1, 2012 at 08:41 PM
    Whow what a Hussein stab in the Americans back! " In A First, Gas And Other Fuels Are Top U.S. Export." When we the people who have to drive to work everyday , and pay over $3.00 per gallon Obama's gas price for years now. Keep the gas in America bring the price down. Export to who North Korea? I hope this news story is not true. But , Just Dem Lib news media lies. To try to save Obama? For fools to believe in.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 02:43 AM in reply to Economics Student
      Gasoline supplies are being exported to the highest bidder, Give ya a warm fuzzy about exporting all of our high-paying manufacturing jobs, now? As the standard of living in America continues to decline thanks to the Republicans and their inequitabl e free trade/flood-up/trickle-down" economics, guess who isn't going to be able to afford gas 'cuz guess who will be able to outbid us? Talk about being between a rock and a hard place: The Republican s won't let us build replacement mass transportation, either.
      • reply
        by It don't matter, we are screwed anyway on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:35 AM in reply to
        If the oil is drilled and pumped here, the oil stays here. Why would it, it's a global market. Whoever is willing to pay gets the oil.
    • reply
      by Geeszzz on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:25 AM in reply to Economics Student
      So, what is the Keystone pipeline for, increasing our domestic supplies of oil or increasing our exports of fuels? It seems that somebody in the GOP is fibbing, no they are "Liars"!!!
    • reply
      by Just another con job on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:29 AM in reply to Economics Student
      The pipeline is being sold as providing the US with more secure energy, it seems that we are just providing more energy to export. Who owns the fuel, the people or the corporatio­ns? I think you overstate the number of jobs and because crude is priced on world markets, it will not be any cheaper.
    • reply
      by Barlow on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:32 AM in reply to Economics Student
      If you are a student, I would hate to see your report card. Yikes!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:51 AM in reply to Barlow
        It's just osoc again, using a different handle. Can you say Bipolar?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:44 AM in reply to Economics Student
      We've got it. Obama and the EPA have stopped domestic oil exploratio­n; but they allow and finance Brazil for deep water offshore drilling. How about that oil pipeline that Obama will not approve? No who wants to keep the oil in the United States? What a Nut!
    • reply
      by Larry on Jan 2, 2012 at 03:52 AM in reply to Economics Student
      Why in the heck is our gas costs so high when we can sell it to other counties. You buy gas in Saudi Arabia for 25 cents a gallon. That is the reason they want that dangerous pipe line so they send the gas overseas.O­bama do not let the rich republican­s get even richer! Sto­p the PIPE!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 10:35 AM in reply to Larry
        what other industry is in Saudi Arabia ??? Nothing but oil ! Of course their gas prices are cheaper, it's ALL THEY PRODUCE. If we had more wells here, more off shore drilling, more refineries... OUR PRICE WOULD BE CHEAPER !!! How ignorant can you people be ??
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:56 PM in reply to
          Oh, great comparison Saudi Arabia to the United States? I can see how they are the same. How ignorant can you people be????
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jan 3, 2012 at 05:11 AM in reply to
          you're speaking to Larry right ???? thought so
    • reply
      by W hat ? on Jan 2, 2012 at 04:25 AM in reply to Economics Student
      There is no way you passed economics, and certainly not political science.
    • reply
      by TJ on Jan 3, 2012 at 03:45 AM in reply to Economics Student
      I am sure that the Bush family is doing well ! Obama is not getting "rich"ER" from these deals. What does Obama have to do with the price of gas? We have free markets in this country and that's the way you people want it. All you Reaganites must be enjoying your trickle of prosperity as you bathe in all the champagne overflowing from above.Do you really think that Husein is going to do anything aboout the price of gas with Norquist in control of our country.

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