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Shale boom leads US to first annual trade surplus with OPEC

In 2015, the United States recorded an annual trade surplus with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. For the first time ever in trading with OPEC, exports exceeded imports.

The United States finished $6.6 billion in the black, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. More than $72 billion worth of goods were exported to OPEC countries, while $66.15 billion worth of goods were imported.

The United States posted a positive trading balance in all but three months of the year.

Reversing decades of trading, the surplus can be attributed to the rise of hydraulic fracturing in the United States. Since 1985, the U.S. depended on oil from OPEC, creating large trade deficits. But that trend began to change in 2011 during the shale boom.

U.S. crude production trimmed away at quarterly deficits in 2014 until a surplus was reached in the first quarter of 2015.

During that time, U.S. oil production skyrocketed, increasing by about one million barrels per day. By 2014, energy companies produced more than 8.7 million barrels of oil per day.

Multiple factors contributed to the trade surplus with OPEC. Falling crude prices paired with lower imported oil volumes helped to decrease the trade deficit.

In related news, OPEC December oil output slips, near record.

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