The United States cut its crude oil imports from Nigeria by 62.08 per cent to 3.92 million barrels in March, the lowest monthly level since February 2016.
The latest data from the US Energy Information Administration seen by our correspondent on Friday showed that the country imported 10.03 million barrels and 10.34 million barrels in January and February, respectively. It bought as much as 13.34 million barrels in October last year.
The US purchased a total of 24.28 million barrels of Nigerian crude in the first three months of this year, down from 25.97 million barrels in the same period last year.
The import of Nigerian crude by the US rose by 48 per cent to 112.92 million barrels last year, the highest annual level in five years, up from 75.81 million barrels in 2016 and 19.86 million barrels in 2015.
US import of Nigerian crude fell from 148.48 million barrels in 2012 to 87.40 million barrels in 2013 on the back of shale oil boom, the data showed.
In 2014, when global oil prices started to fall from a peak of $115 per barrel, Nigeria saw a further drop in the US imports of its crude to 21.2 million barrels.
For the first time in decades, the US did not purchase any barrel of Nigerian crude in July and August 2014 and June 2015, according to the EIA data.
In 2010, the US bought as much as 358.9 million barrels from Nigeria, but slashed its imports to 280.1 million barrels in 2011.
It can be recalled that the US crude oil exports had surpassed that of Nigeria as shale oil production surged.
The EIA, the statistical arm of the US Energy Department, said the US crude oil exports rose by 582,000 barrels per day in the third week of April to an all-time record high of 2.331 million bpd.
An analysis of data obtained by newsmen from the EIA showed that the US crude oil exports averaged 1.12 million bpd last year, with the highest daily export of 1.73 million bpd recorded in October.
Light sweet Nigerian crude is very similar to the light oil produced in the US shale.
The US exports will continue to rise in the medium term, and by 2022, the country will be the fourth biggest oil exporter in the world behind Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq, energy consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, said at the end of January.
The US will export four million bpd of light sweet crude of API gravity of between 38 and 45 by 2022, Wood Mackenzie has estimated.
The US removed the 40-year-old restrictions on its crude exports in December 2015 following the rapid growth of its shale oil production. In 2016, the US exported an average of 520,000 bpd.