The rise of the United States as the world's top oil and gas producer and now growing exporter puts energy at the center of U.S. trade negotiations — as a lever and a potential source of friction.
The International Energy Agency said Monday the U.S. should surpass Russia as an oil exporter in three years and challenge Saudi Arabia for the top spot within five as U.S. oil output continues to grow.
That, together with the expected growth in U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas, is expected to turn the United States into the world's biggest exporter of energy.
Increased sales of U.S. energy are a significant part of trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington. Since the United States resumed oil exports in early 2016, China has been a major importer of U.S. oil and at times, has been the largest. China also imports U.S. LNG and is expected to increase its purchases even more.
"It's a big positive in U.S. trade talks with China. Until matters are resolved, it's a source of friction. it's also part of the equation in the European gas market," said Dan Yergin, IHS Markit vice chairman.
The growth in U.S. exports and rising clout in the global energy market was a topic of discussions in many of the meeting rooms at the IHS Markit annual CERAWeek conference in Houston.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, in an interview with CNBC, acknowledged the growth in U.S. production is a lever in trade, though he is not personally involved in trade negotiations.
"It's part of the mix. It may not be the driver, but it's always hanging out there as part of the matrix, if you will," he said.
Perry said the whole range of U.S. energy, including nuclear, has made the U.S. a powerhouse. "All of it plays a role. America is the leader in the energy sector, not just fossil fuels, he said.