New data shows shifting US energy landscape, as petroleum exports soar

Although it has long been clear that soaring energy production in the United States has cut the country’s net energy importsin half, new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration helps illustrate some notable trends.

The latest monthly report from the agency shows continued growth in U.S. fossil fuel production, leading to a 22 percent drop in petroleum imports between 2005 and 2012, according to agency data.

Meantime, U.S. exports of petroleum products jumped 270 percent between 2005 and 2012.

Energy exports this year are on pace to grow again, already outpacing 2011 and 2012 through the first five months of the year.

Federal forecast: Global oil price will decline through end of 2013

Despite the growth in exports, the nation still relied on imports for 16 percent of its energy needs in 2012, according to the data.

The transformation in U.S. energy exports began when production of U.S. natural gas started soaring in 2005. At the same time, Americans are dramatically decreasing their consumption of oil and petroleum products, largely because of federal requirements that cars use less fuel.

Some highlights from the latest data offer a quick look at the diverse U.S. energy mix and other trends.

Gains in solar, wind and biomass-based energy helped push renewable energy production above nuclear energy production at the start of the year, according to the data.

The Energy Information Administration considers hydroelectric power a source of renewable energy generation.

Renewables surpassed nuclear energy production in 2010 for the first time since the early 1980s, when power from hydroelectric and other renewable resources accounted for significantly more energy than nuclear resources, according to the data.

A closer look at the data for renewable energy production shows how various renewable resources have grown in significance, but still play a relatively small role in the American energy mix.

On the consumption side, Americans’ overall energy consumption fell 5 percent between 2005 and 2012, with the country’s petroleum use dropping 14 percent over that period.

Here are some more charts, looking at trends for both consumption and production of energy in the United States.