US briefly overtakes Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil exporter

Booming shale production helped the United States briefly overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s top oil exporter for the first time earlier this year.

US exports of crude topped 3 million barrels per day in June, according to the International Energy Agency, pushing its total oil exports to nearly 9 million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, cut back on exports of crude and other energy products as part of a longstanding OPEC effort to boost prices. Russian exports were constrained by problems with a pipeline that delivers oil to central and eastern Europe.

While the title of No. 1 exporter passed back to Saudi Arabia in July and August, the United States’ brief reign reflects its new status as one of the world’s most influential energy producers.

Led by shale, US production has more than doubled over the past decade. Drilling innovations have opened up huge swaths of new resources, allowing the United States to pump more oil than any other country.

“With production expanding strongly, the question is can sellers of US crude price exports attractively enough to capture international markets,” the Paris-based IEA said in a report.

The IEA, which monitors energy supplies for the world’s richest nations, said that US exports were limited in July and August by hurricanes and the Trump administration’s trade war with China. But the agency expects the United States to challenge again for the title of top exporter.

“The installation of the necessary pipelines and terminals is continuing apace, which will ensure that the trend continues,” the agency said in its report.

Oil prices have stumbled in recent months due to concerns about weak demand for energy driven by the trade war and a global economic slowdown.

The US Energy Information Administration dimmed its outlook for oil consumption on Tuesday due to concerns about the economy. It now expects demand growth this year to be the weakest since at least 2011.

The IEA maintained its estimates for global demand growth on Thursday, saying it expects an increase of 1.1 million barrels per day in 2019 and 1.3 million barrels per day next year.

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