The U.S. became a net oil exporter to Mexico for the first time in more than 20 years as output from shale fields pushed the world’s biggest consumer toward energy independence.
Net exports — comprising only oil products since the U.S. bans most shipments of crude — totaled 48,000 barrels a day in July, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in data released Wednesday. A decade ago, the country bought a net 1.3 million barrels of oil from its southern neighbor.
The emergence of the U.S. as a net supplier to Mexico underscores how the growth of the shale industry is redrawing the global energy map. Output from shale rocks pushed U.S. oil production to a three-decade high earlier this year, driving down prices, boosting margins for refiners and fueling a debate over whether the country should lift restrictions on exports of crude.
Refineries in the U.S. Midwest earned $24.50 a barrel in the third quarter to Sept. 23, compared with $20.80 in the preceding quarter and $17.60 a year earlier, according to BP Plc data.
“The refineries are running so hard that they have extra products and that is getting exported, making the U.S. less dependent on imports overall,” said Gareth Lewis-Davis, senior commodity strategist at BNP Paribas SA in London. “More domestic oil means it’s a boon for the economy and less dependence on Middle East oil.”
Read more: Bloomberg