This is going to be the first year since 1949 in which America exports more fuel than it imports, thanks to sagging demand at home and booming economies elsewhere. The US still imports around 9 million barrels of crude oil every day, but soaring exports of refined petroleum products are converting it into a net exporter, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the first nine months of this year, the US imported 689.4 million barrels and sent 753.4 million barrels of petroleum products abroad to countries including Mexico, Brazil, and the Netherlands.
"We're not using as much," an analyst at the Energy Information Administration says. "Prior to 2008, basically anything we produced, we used." A sharp rebound for the US economy could make it a net importer again, but this "looks like a trend that could stay in place for the rest of the decade," says the global director of oil at energy market tracking firm Platts. "The conventional wisdom is that the US is this giant black hole sucking in energy from around the world. This changes that dynamic." (Read more energy independence stories.)