Crude oil exports from the United States to the United Kingdom overtook supplies from other countries including Nigeria for the first time since such shipments began in 2015.
In January, the US supplied the equivalent of almost one in every four barrels of crude processed by UK oil refineries, or 264,000 barrels per day, illustrating the outsized role American oil now has in Britain’s energy mix, The Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
That level was more than Norway, Russia, Nigeria or Algeria, according to data from the cargo-tracking company Kpler, which have all been major suppliers to the UK in recent years. Meanwhile, operators in the UK portion of the North Sea have battled to stem production declines.
While monthly export volumes can be volatile, the rising volume of US crude heading to the UK is part of a trend since Washington lifted widespread restrictions on exports in 2015.
In 2018, the average volume of US crude exported to the UK doubled to 160,000 bpd, second only to Norway over the course of the year and up from less than 20,000 bpd in 2016.
“We’re likely to see more US exports to the UK,” said Prof. Paul Stevens, an energy expert, and fellow at Chatham House.
“It’s geography — why sail further than you need to when the UK is the first big market the US can reach?” he added.
The surge in US crude supplies comes as the country’s production has risen close to 12 million bpd, up from just five million bpd a decade ago, thanks largely to oil supplies from shale formations that have been exploited through advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
That has allowed Washington to pursue a policy that the Trump administration has dubbed “American energy dominance”, with the country overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer, as well as becoming a major gas supplier.