The United States’ Transition to a Net Exporter of Petroleum

The United States achieved a significant milestone in its energy landscape by becoming a net exporter of petroleum in 2020, a position it maintained through 2022. This remarkable shift from being a major importer to a net exporter has profound implications for the nation’s energy security and global energy dynamics.

Key Facts

  1. The United States became a net exporter of petroleum in 2020.
  2. In 2022, the United States imported about 8.33 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum.
  3. Crude oil imports accounted for about 75% of U.S. total gross petroleum imports.
  4. The top five source countries of U.S. gross petroleum imports in 2022 were Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Colombia.
  5. The United States exported about 9.52 million b/d of petroleum in 2022.
  6. Crude oil exports accounted for 38% of total U.S. gross petroleum exports.
  7. The top five destination countries of U.S. total petroleum exports in 2022 were Mexico, Canada, China, South Korea, and The Netherlands.

Historical Context: U.S. Petroleum Imports

For decades, the United States heavily relied on petroleum imports to meet its domestic energy demands. In 2005, the country reached its peak of petroleum imports, highlighting its vulnerability to external factors affecting global oil prices and supply disruptions. However, a combination of factors, including increased domestic production and a rise in petroleum exports, led to a gradual decline in imports.

Recent Trends in Petroleum Imports and Exports

In 2022, the United States imported approximately 8.33 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum, while exports reached 9.52 million b/d, resulting in a net export of 1.19 million b/d. This transition to a net exporter status is largely attributed to the surge in domestic petroleum production, primarily driven by advancements in unconventional oil extraction technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Sources of Petroleum Imports

Canada emerged as the predominant source of U.S. petroleum imports, accounting for 52% of the total in 2022. Mexico and Saudi Arabia followed as significant contributors, supplying 10% and 7%, respectively. Notably, the share of imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Persian Gulf countries has been on a downward trend, reflecting the United States’ efforts to diversify its import sources.

Destinations of Petroleum Exports

Mexico, Canada, China, South Korea, and the Netherlands were the top five destinations for U.S. petroleum exports in 2022. These countries collectively received over 40% of the total exports. The United States’ strategic location and proximity to these markets provide a competitive advantage in supplying petroleum.

Economic and Geopolitical Implications

The United States’ transition to a net petroleum exporter has significant economic and geopolitical implications. It enhances the nation’s energy independence, reduces its vulnerability to price fluctuations in the global oil market, and strengthens its position as a key player in the global energy landscape. Additionally, it creates job opportunities and boosts economic growth in the domestic energy sector.


The United States’ transformation into a net petroleum exporter is a remarkable achievement that underscores the nation’s commitment to energy security and its role as a global energy leader. This transition has been driven by a combination of increased domestic production, diversification of import sources, and strategic export initiatives. As the global energy landscape continues to evolve, the United States’ position as a net petroleum exporter is likely to shape its energy policies and geopolitical relationships in the years to come.


  1. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). (2023, January 19). Oil and petroleum products explained. Retrieved from
  2. EIA. (2023, September 22). How much petroleum does the United States import and export? Retrieved from
  3. Statista. (2023, December 13). Crude oil imports to the United States in selected years from 2000 to 2022 (in million barrels). Retrieved from


How much did the United States spend on petroleum imports in 2022?

In 2022, the United States spent an estimated $380 billion on petroleum imports. This figure is based on an average crude oil price of $95 per barrel and a total import volume of 8.33 million barrels per day.

What percentage of U.S. energy consumption is met by petroleum imports?

Approximately 10% of U.S. energy consumption is met by petroleum imports. The United States is the world’s largest consumer of petroleum, but it also has significant domestic production.

Which countries are the top sources of U.S. petroleum imports?

The top five sources of U.S. petroleum imports in 2022 were Canada (52%), Mexico (10%), Saudi Arabia (7%), Iraq (4%), and Colombia (3%).

How have U.S. petroleum imports changed over time?

U.S. petroleum imports peaked in 2005 at 15.3 million barrels per day. Since then, imports have declined due to increased domestic production and a rise in petroleum exports.

What are the economic implications of U.S. petroleum imports?

U.S. petroleum imports have a significant impact on the economy. They can affect the trade deficit, inflation, and energy prices. Additionally, the reliance on foreign oil can have geopolitical implications.

What are the environmental implications of U.S. petroleum imports?

The extraction, transportation, and use of petroleum all have environmental impacts. These impacts include air pollution, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the policy options for reducing U.S. petroleum imports?

There are a number of policy options that could be used to reduce U.S. petroleum imports, including increasing domestic production, promoting energy efficiency, and investing in renewable energy sources.

What is the outlook for U.S. petroleum imports in the future?

The outlook for U.S. petroleum imports is uncertain. Factors that could affect future imports include the price of oil, the rate of economic growth, and the development of new energy technologies.