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Justin Fox

The U.S. Becomes an Oil Economy

Booming production and falling imports shift its role in the business cycle.

Up, up, up.

Up, up, up.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The oil market has changed a lot over the past decade. Here, for example, is the latest data on U.S. imports and exports of crude oil and petroleum products, released by the Energy Information Administration at the end of last month:

The U.S. has gone from a big-time net importer of oil to a small-time one. The latest base-case forecast from the EIA is that it will be a “modest net exporter” from 2029 through 2045. Neither the EIA nor anyone else (that I know of, at least) foresaw a huge increase in U.S. oil production over the past decade, though, so let’s leave the forecasts aside. What has already happened is momentous enough. Here, for example, is the long view (going back to 1870) on U.S. crude oil exports: