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U.S. energy production falls for first time in 6 years

by Andrea Waitrovich

The total energy production in the United States fell in 2016 after six consecutive years of increases, according to new figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

According to new figures published by the EIA at the end of March, total primary energy production in 2016 measured 84.1 quadrillion British thermal units, a drop of 4 percent from the 2015 level and the first decline in U.S. energy production since 2009.

U.S. fossil fuel production fell 7 percent in 2016 compared with 2015 levels, primarily in the coal sector, which decreased 18 percent and fell to its lowest level since 1978. In addition to coal’s decline, petroleum and natural gas production both declined as well, falling 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively, below their 2015 levels.

Renewable energy production increased in 2016, after a slight dip in 2015, growing by 7 percent, with wind energy making up almost half the increase and solar accounting for nearly a quarter.

There also was an increase in U.S. energy imports and exports. Total energy net imports — after 10 consecutive years of decline — increased by 6 percent in 2016, as the growth in gross imports outpaced the increase in gross exports. U.S. gross energy imports increased by 7 percent in 2016, with most of the increase coming from additional crude oil imports, which rose 7 percent.

Total energy exports also rose 7 percent in 2016, with petroleum product exports increasing 8 percent, natural gas exports increasing 30 percent and crude oil exports increasing 13 percent. Total coal exports declined 19 percent.

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