The US has significantly reduced imports of Nigerian crude oil in the past few years as the oil produced in its shale operations is similar to Nigeria’s crude.

Its oil imports from Nigeria plunged to 9.599 million barrels in the first three months of this year from 15.879 million barrels in the same period of 2018, according to latest data from the US Energy Information Administration.

The North American country increased its oil exports to 2.002 million barrels per day in 2018 from 1.118 million bpd in 2017, emerging the seventh biggest exporter of crude oil, according to the 2019 Annual Statistical Bulletin of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It also overtook Angola, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Norway, Mexico and Brazil.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, saw its exports fall to 1.811 million bpd in 2018 from 1.979 million bpd in 2017.

OPEC noted that the year 2018 saw substantial global supply growth, with total oil liquids production increased significantly by 2.6 million bpd, outpacing oil demand growth by more than one million bpd in 2018.

It said the increase was once more driven by outstanding production gains in North America, particularly in the US.

Oil supply in the US increased by around 2.3 million bpd in 2018, representing almost 80 per cent of total non-OPEC supply growth, according to the report.

For decades, the US Energy Policy and Conservation Act enacted regulations constrained US crude oil from being exported outside national territories. However, in December 2015, Congress lifted the ban and volumes of crude oil exports skyrocketed significantly thereafter.

“From a regional perspective, historically, Canada used to be the main export destination of US crude oil. However, after the lifting of the ban, Western Europe and particularly Asia have become top destinations of US crude oil exports,” OPEC said.

Some of the largest importers of Nigerian crude oil, such as India and the Netherlands have become the main purchasers of US crude.

Nigeria’s oil exports to Asia and Pacific dropped to 387,200 million bpd in 2018 from 512,600 bpd in 2017, according to OPEC.

According to import statistics, the US used to be the biggest importer of crude oil worldwide until 2017, when China outperformed the world’s biggest economy.

The US imports dropped to 7.756 million bpd in 2018 from 7.966 million bpd in 2017, OPEC data showed.