U.S. oil imports approaching record low

July 11, 2013 at 6:49 AM

WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- Oil imports into the United States next year should be at their lowest level in nearly 20 years, the Energy Department said.

The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said imports of crude oil and other petroleum products have been falling steadily since 2005.

New technologies in drilling have unleashed oil and natural gas reserves in underground shale formations previously out of reach for energy explorers in states like Texas and North Dakota. Offshore, the EIA said in a short-term outlook published Wednesday oil production from the Gulf of Mexico is increasing as well.

"EIA expects U.S. crude oil production to rise from an average of 6.5 million bpd in 2012 to 7.3 million bpd in 2013 and 8.1 million bpd in 2014," the short-term report stated.

Oil production from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase from 1.3 million bpd in 2013 to 1.4 million bpd by 2014.

The EIA said U.S. crude oil production in May was the highest since 1992 at 7.3 million bpd. The agency said it expects the net import share of crude oil and petroleum production to fall to 31 percent of the energy mix in 2014, which would be the lowest level since 1985.

The Interior Department is expected to hold a lease sale for unexplored areas in the Gulf of Mexico next month.

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