Top 15 U.S. Exports, January-November 2011
|Export Category|| Jan.-Nov. 2011 (millions) |
|3||Industrial machines, other||$37,456|
NEW YORK (AP)
-- "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 (see table above of the top 15 categories for U.S. exports through November of this year). It will also be the first year in more than 60 that America has been a net exporter of these fuels. The last time the U.S. was a net exporter of fuels was 1949, when Harry Truman was president.
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.
Fuel exports, worth an estimated $88 billion in 2011, have surged for two reasons:
1. 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.
2. 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."
HT: Bill Greenway
: The chart below shows that net oil imports this year of 45.4% of U.S. consumption will be the lowest since 1995. So while the U.S. becomes a net exporter of fuel for the first time since 1949, net oil imports are falling to a 16-year low.