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United States Inching Toward Oil Independence

Paul Davidson | USA TODAY

U.S. oil imports fell sharply again in 2013 while petroleum exports rose, leading some analysts to proclaim that a new era of energy independence is just a few years away.

Experts largely credit new drilling techniques that have unearthed vast troves of previously inaccessible oil embedded in shale deposits in states such as North Dakota and Texas.

"We're at the beginning of a long upswing," says Citigroup analyst Eric Lee.

Crude oil imports declined 9% last year to 2.8 billion barrels, lowest since 1995, and are down 17% since 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
Meanwhile, exports, mostly of refined gasoline and diesel, rose about 11%, narrowing the country's petroleum deficit by about $59 billion, or 20%, to $233 billion. Lee attributes the exports' increase to the abundance of U.S. oil and reduced U.S. consumption as fuel-efficient vehicles proliferate.

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