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Image courtesy of Blair Heusdens, U.S. Army/Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. crude exports surged to a record high last week on growing shale oil output.

Data published by the U.S. Energy Administration Information (EIA) showed that U.S. crude exports rose to 1.026 million barrels per day for the week ended on Feburary 10.

That figure was up from 567,000 bpd during the prior week and 399,000 bpd a year ago.

According to CNBC, last week’s export level was the highest U.S. crude export level on record.

Last week’s crude export level was also well aabove the four-week average of 685, 000 bpd and

Head of global energy research at Oil Price Information Service Tom Kloza told CNBC that light sweet oil likely accounted for the majority of last week’s exports.

The export gains came as U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 9.5 million barrels from the previous week.

At 518.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories ended last week at above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Despite the export boost, net U.S. crude import levels remained above the year ago level.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.5 million bpd ast week, down by 881,000 bpd from the previous week but up from 7.32 million bpd during the same period last year.

U.S. shale production is expected to continue growing thanks to rising rig counts in major tight oil basins.

The EIA said earlier this month that U.S. oil production from the nation’s seven largest basins is expected to jump by 80,000 bpd in March to 4.79 million bpd compared to 4.87 million bpd in February.

The agency recently bumped its U.S. oil production forecast for 2018 up to 9.5 million barrels per day, up from last month’s estimate of 9.3 million bpd.

U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 8.9 million bpd in 2016 while 2017 production was unchanged at an average 9 million bpd, the EIA found.

The number of oil rigs operating in the United States has climbed steadily since the start of the year.

According to data published by Baker Hughes, the U.S. rig count rose to 741 as of February 10 compared to 541 rigs in the same week last year.

The Permian Basin has seen the largest rig gain of all the major producing basins with the area’s rig count now at 301 rigs compared to 172 rigs a year ago.

Total horizontal, vertical and directional drill counts have also risen above year ago levels.

Shale oil production is expected to drive U.S. production gains until at least 2040 thanks to produvitivty gains and rising rig counts.