U.S. crude-oil imports dropped below 7 million barrels a day for the second time in 14 years as domestic output grew, the Energy Information Administration said.
Shipments dropped 1.07 million barrels a day to 6.89 million in the week ended Jan. 10, the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, said today in a weekly report. They reached 6.86 million on Dec. 6, the lowest level since Jan. 28, 2000. Imports averaged 9.35 million in the past 10 years.
Domestic production increased to the most in more than 25 years as fracking and horizontal drilling boosted output from shale formations, including Bakken in North Dakota and Eagle Ford in Texas. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, traded $14 cheaper than the European benchmark Brent on Jan. 10. The gap has been above $10 since Nov. 7.
“We have increasing supplies of domestic crude,” said Tom Finlon, Jupiter, Florida-based director of Energy Analytics Group LLC. “That’s why imports have been declining. The Brent-WTI spread has been so wide for so long and foreign crude is better off to go somewhere else.”
Imports to the East Coast fell 51 percent to 435,000 barrels a day, the EIA reported. Shipments to the Gulf Coast decreased 11 percent to 3.09 million, the least since September 2008.
Domestic production climbed to 8.16 million barrels a day last week, the highest level since July 1988. Output surpassed imports in October for the first time since 1995, according to the EIA.
Production will average 8.54 million barrels a day this year, up 14 percent from last year’s 7.5 million, and will reach 9.29 million next year, the most since 1972, the EIA said on Jan. 7 in a monthly report.
Imports will account for 24 percent of total U.S. liquid fuel consumption in 2015, the lowest level since 1970. That’s down from 33 percent in 2013 and 60 percent in 2005.
WTI for February delivery rose $1.82, or 2 percent, to $94.41 a barrel at 11:27 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent futures climbed $1.12, or 1.1 percent, to $107.51 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark grade was at a premium of $13.10 to WTI.
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