The United States has entered an era of energy abundance as domestic production from fossil, nuclear and renewable sources has climbed, according to an annual report from the Energy Information Administration.
Energy produced from renewable sources continues to climb even as oil and natural gas production increases. Meanwhile, coal production has steadily declined since it peaked in 2008. Coal mined for use in electricity generation has decreased as more power companies switch to natural gas.
After nearly 40 years of declining domestic oil production, the trend reversed in 2009 until reaching near-record levels in 2015 and 2017. Concurrent to the rise in oil production, domestic production of gas and gas liquids has also risen to record levels, driving increases in demand and exports.
Rising production levels have for the most part, kept a lid on prices for fossil fuels. Likewise, increasing production from renewables has made those energy sources more price competitive, the agency reported.
Total renewable energy production and consumption both reached record highs of about 11 quadrillion Btu in 2017. Record-level wind and solar energy production in 2017 drove the increase in renewables totals, EIA said.
As fossil fuel production has grown, so have oil and gas exports. An annual summary of exports from the Gulf Coast, which is the primary export region in the country, showed crude oil exports exceeded imports for consecutive months at the end of the year, EIA reported.
Gulf Coast gross exports of oil hit a record of 2.3 mm b/d in December compared to gross imports of 2.0 mm b/d. December oil imports were the lowest since March 1986, the agency said.
Much of the increase in domestic oil production is light, sweet crude while Gulf Coast refineries are configured mostly to process heavy, sour crude. The mismatch means rising exports are mostly light, sweet crude from the domestic shale plays.
Finally, oil imports from OPEC countries, notably Venezuela, declined to 1.1 mm b/d in December from 1.5 mm b/d in first half of the year, EIA reported.