By Oke Peter
The United States cut its imports of Nigerian crude oil by 48.87 million barrels or 43 percent in 2018, according to the latest data released by the Energy Information Administration.
The US imports of Nigerian crude fell to 64.06 million barrels last year from a five-year high of 112.92 million barrels in 2017.
The EIA data showed that the country imported 75.81 million barrels of Nigerian oil in 2016, up from 19.85 million barrels in 2015.
US imports of Nigerian crude fell from 148.48 million barrels in 2012 to 87.40 million barrels in 2013 on the back of the shale oil boom.
Light sweet Nigerian crude is very similar to the light oil produced in US shale. As US shale production has grown, the appetite for Nigerian crude in the US has dropped dramatically.
In 2014, when global oil prices started to fall from a peak of $115 per barrel, Nigeria saw a further drop in US imports of its crude to 21.24 million barrels.
For the first time in decades, the US did not purchase any barrel of Nigerian crude in July and August 2014 and June 2015, according to the EIA data.
In 2010, the US bought as much as 358.92 million barrels from Nigeria but slashed its imports to 280.08 million barrels in 2011.
With the sharp increase in its production, the US oil exports averaged 1.9 million bpd in 2018, about twice the amount that was exported in 2017, according to the EIA.
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.
South Korea overtook China as the number-two destination for US crude behind Canada in 2018, as shipments to South Korea soared to a record high of 558,000 bpd in December, according to the EIA.
The US sent an average 236,000 bpd of crude to South Korea and 228,000 bpd to China in 2018.
Canada remained the top customer on an annual basis for 2018, but South Korea took the top spot for December. The US sent an average of 378,000 bpd of crude to Canada in 2018, with December exports at 431,000 bpd.
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.
Shipments overseas have leaped since the US lifted restrictions on exports that had been in leaped since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s, with Washington keen to reap the economic benefits and wield its energy clout as a tool of foreign policy.