As world leaders meet at the COP28 climate summit to discuss reducing fossil fuel usage, America’s oil and gas industries continue to break production records. This boom has led to soaring exports, filling tankers with profitable cargoes bound for Europe and Asia eager for more US energy.
Crude Production Hits New Highs
The US pumped 13.2 million barrels per day of crude in September – an all-time monthly record. Natural gas output is also poised to reach unprecedented levels, putting the country on pace to become the top global producer in 2023.
Meanwhile, refined products like gasoline and diesel are flooding out of US refineries. Combined with surging crude volumes, the nation is solidifying its position as the leading oil and gas exporter.
This drilling Renaissance has accelerated under President Biden, despite his administration’s efforts to transition away from hydrocarbons. Domestic politics and global market forces appear too strong for any meaningful slowdown in output.
Exports Soar With Europe’s Leading Surge
Seaborne crude exports exiting US ports averaged a record 4 million barrels per day over the first 11 months of 2023. That whopping 19% surge from 2022 levels can be attributed to European and Asian economies scrambling for alternatives to banned Russian energy.
Europe has become painfully dependent on Moscow in prior decades. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced EU leaders to pivot toward friendly suppliers like the United States. Tankers have delivered 1.83 million barrels per day of US crude across the Atlantic so far this year, a 26% jump over 2022.
Europe now accounts for 46% of total US crude exports compared to just 37% before the war. Displaced barrels once destined for China and India have been rerouted to Europe as the continent weans itself off Russian energy.
Asia Remains a Major Destination
Even with Europe absorbing more US crude, exports to Asia still managed to reach record highs in 2023. Shipments averaging 1.65 million barrels per day represent a 15% annual increase over 2022.
Very Large Crude Carriers transporting 2 million barrel cargoes are reaping major profits from the boom. Tanker owners counted 40 monthly shipments out of the US Gulf in both October and November – matching the record set in April 2022.
Biden’s Balancing Act
The Biden administration is attempting to balance climate action policies with political and economic realities. Campaigning for clean energy and reducing emissions while presiding over an unprecedented oil boom places the White House in an awkward position.
Global energy shortages unleashed by the Ukraine war showed just how dependent the world remains on fossil fuels. Efforts to rapidly transition to renewables faltered as prices skyrocketed. Extensive public and private investment over decades also makes the oil industry resilient to policy headwinds.
For now, analysts expect drilling activity and exports to continue expanding no matter the climate rhetoric emanating from DC or the COP28 summit. Shipowners transporting liquefied natural gas, refined products, and crude oil stand ready to facilitate new records.
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