US will soon threaten to topple Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil exporter: IEA

The U.S. will start exporting more oil than Russia and threaten to unseat Saudi Arabia as the world's top exporter by 2024, according to the International Energy Agency.

The forecast from IEA comes just weeks after the U.S. exported a record 3.6 million barrels per day of crude oil. The country also exports about 5 million bpd of petroleum products, including refined fuels like gasoline.

Those shipments will surge in the coming years as crude production from the nation's shale fields continues to boom, IEA says in its annual five-year oil outlook. The Paris-based adviser to oil consumers and producers sees U.S. crude output — already at a record 12 million bpd — growing by another 4 million bpd through 2024.

"The second wave of the U.S. shale revolution is coming," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. "It will see the United States account for 70% of the rise in global oil production and some 75% of the expansion in LNG trade over the next five years. This will shake up international oil and gas trade flows, with profound implications for the geopolitics of energy."

The U.S. topped the Saudis and Russians to become the world's biggest oil producer in 2018. Pulling ahead of them in the export market would further erode their influence in the oil market.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have formed an alliance in recent years, coordinating oil production among OPEC and other oil producing countries. The so-called OPEC+ alliance has capped output for much of the last two years, helping to boost oil prices after a punishing downturn.

Most of the output growth from OPEC over the next five years will come from Iraq, IEA says. The group thinks the country will be the world's third biggest source of new supply, helping to offset production declines in Iran and Venezuela.

The world will need that supply, in IEA's view. The group sees no signs that growing oil demand will peak in the coming years. It forecasts the world's appetite for oil will increase at an average 1.2 million bpd over the next five years, roughly in line with recent growth trends.

While the group sees electric cars and fuel efficiency sapping demand for gasoline, IEA thinks rising petrochemicals and jet fuel consumption will offset any weakness at the pump.

In addition to the U.S. and Iraq, IEA sees countries like Brazil, Norway and Guyana meeting rising demand for oil.

"These are extraordinary times for the oil industry as geopolitics become a bigger factor in the markets and the global economy is slowing down," Birol said. "Everywhere we look, new actors are emerging and past certainties are fading."


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