This week’s EIA Report showed US crude oil exports at 3.362 million barrels per day (bpd) for the week ending March 3, a decline of 2.267 million from the previous week and the largest weekly decline since May 2021. But keep in mind that the previous week’s export number, 5.629 million bpd, was a record. Net crude imports fell below 1 million bpd for the first time in more than 60 years.
The nine highest weekly readings for US crude exports have occurred since last July. And while there was a sharp decline last week, the exports tend to have wide swings. In contrast to crude oil imports, which mostly arrive via pipeline from Canada or Mexico, US crude oil is primarily exported via tanker ship. Canada is the fourth largest destination for US crude exports, but Mexico has not received any since late 2018.
US crude exports have been trending higher since restrictions were lifted in late 2015, but petroleum product exports have been underway since late 2007. These products include gasoline, distillates, propane, and other oils, such as lubricants, asphalt, and unfinished oils. The US has been a consistent net exporter of petroleum products since 2011, and the products accounted for 62% of all US petroleum exports last year.
Prior to 2022, the US has only one week in which crude and product exports reached 10 million bpd. Since 2022, they have reached that level 18 times, with three readings above 11 million bpd. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has played a major role in this increase, as European customers had to look to somewhere besides Russia to meet their needs.
With US refinery throughput holding near the 15 million bpd level, we do not anticipate any sharp reduction in US crude oil imports soon. Weekly import readings have come in above 7 million bpd only six times in the last 2 ½ years, and they have stayed well below the 10 million bpd-plus levels of the mid-2000’s. With Russian exports reduced by sanctions for the foreseeable future, we expect US crude oil and petroleum product exports to stay near record levels.
Originally Published March 10, 2023
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