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Now that the U.S. has edged past Russia as the world's largest oil and gas producer, the drumbeat to export some of that oil bounty is expected to get louder as U.S. production continues to grow.
The North American energy picture has been evolving rapidly, as U.S. producers use drilling advances to extract oil and gas from shale rock and other difficult-to-access areas. That has created a boom, with the U.S. expected to produce an average 7.5 million barrels a day of oil in 2013 and 8.4 million barrels a day in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration. The U.S. still imports about 8 million barrels a day.
The U.S. also has the world's cheapest and most abundant natural gas supply. Increased exports of natural gas are already on the horizon, with four export terminals approved and expected to begin operating by 2015. But federal law prohibits the export of U.S. crude to most countries—only nations that have free trade pacts with the United States can be sent oil exports—even though the U.S. has become a net exporter of refined petroleum products and is looking to export even more.