The United States is on the way to become a net energy exporter in 2020 in view of its rising crude oil output and weakening domestic demand for petroleum products, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a forecast report.
According to the Annual Energy Outlook 2019 (AEO2019), which was released January 24 by the EIA, the U.S. will export more energy than it import by 2020 and remain at that position through 2050 thanks to increasingly high production of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas plant liquids (NGPLs) along with decelerating U.S. energy consumption.
The EIA report presented projections of U.S. energy markets through 2050 based on a reference case and six side cases that include different assumptions regarding prices, economic activity, and technology and resource estimates, for which expecting continued development of U.S. shale and tight oil and natural gas resources.
Additionally, natural gas and NGPLs production in the U.S. are expected to see the fastest growth among all fossil fuels, with NGPL accounting for estimated one-third of cumulative U.S. liquids production from 2020 through 2050.
In the reference case, U.S. oil output is seen as continuing to set annual records through the mid-2020s and keep a level above 14.0 million barrels per day (b/d) through 2040.
According to AEO2019, net gas exports of the U.S. are expected to see continuous and high growth as global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is significantly increasing and relatively low prices for U.S. natural gas will strengthen its competitiveness in North American and global markets.
Moreover, the EIA outlook forecasts that renewable energy resources would grow to have a larger share of U.S. power generation than nuclear and coal in less than a decade, majorly considering the impact of sustained low gas prices and declining costs of renewable power on the fuel mix for electricity generation.
The natural gas share is expected to grow from 34% in 2018 to 39% in 2050, while the share of renewable energy is projected to rise from 18% in 2018 to 31% in 2050, propelled largely by growth in solar and wind power generation.
According to the outlook, the U.S. would keep a relatively flat energy consumption due to improving energy utilization efficiency across end-use sectors, even as the U.S. economy continues to grow.
As concluded in the EIA report, increasing crude oil and natural gas production as well as less strong energy demand in the long run could define a clear trend: the United States is on track to become a net energy exporter.