The amount of energy being exported by the US last year went above the figure being imported for the first time since 1952, according to new data.
America's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday (April 20th 2020) this record high was due to lower net imports of crude oil and much higher net exports of natural gas.
The figures showed gross energy exports from the US hit 23.6 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2019, while imports dipped to 22.8 quads, their lowest recorded level since 1995.
The peak was 30 quads last seen in 2005, but the EIA says the figure has been falling every year since 2016.
During 2019, the country was still a net importer of crude oil, but the amount of imports had decreased by 31 per cent when energy content was taken into account.
Crude oil from the US went to 44 different countries last year, compared to 41 in 2018, with Canada being the biggest buyer, followed by South Korea.
The EIA said the net trade of energy sources other than crude oil and natural gas remained broadly similar to the levels seen in 2018, although gross US exports of coal were down 20 per cent while gross coal imports only rose by 12 per cent.
"Last year's change in net energy trade in the United States - from 3.6 quads of net imports in 2018 to 0.8 quads of net exports in 2019 - was the largest change in US energy trade since 1980," a statement from the administration said.
Of course, the data for 2020 is going to be very different when it becomes available, as the global coronavirus pandemic is presenting some very serious challenges for the energy industry.
Energy usage in the US has already fallen to its lowest level in 16 years as public buildings close, while worldwide energy demand has crashed by a third so far in April, according to the International Energy Agency.
This week, the price of oil in the US also fell below $0 for the first time ever, prompting president Donald Trump to pledge to make cuts on behalf of Mexico and pay American producers to keep their oil untapped to secure an oil deal.