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US petroleum product exports continued to rise in 2013

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Petroleum product exports rise

Gross exports of petroleum products from the US reached 4.3 million bpd in December 2013. This is the first time exports exceeded 4 million bpd in a single month.

December exports capped a year of steady growth and brought average exports for 2013 to 3.5 million bpd, 350 000 bpd higher than in 2012.

The increase in exports was broad based, affecting multiple products:

  • Exports of petroleum products from the US have increased 1.7 million bpd since 2008. Exports of petroleum products from the USGC to Africa, as well as Asia and Oceania increased by 56 000 bpd (81%) and 97 000 bpd (44%) respectively.
  • Average distillate fuel gross exports exceeded 1.1 million bpd in 2013, a 110 000 bpd increase on the 2012 level. The strongest absolute growth in distillate exports was to Central and South America. US exports to that region increased 60 000 bpd to 550 000 bpd. Exports to Western Europe increased by 50 000 bpd to average 400 000 bpd.
  • Gasoline exports, which include finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, increased 45 000 bpd in 2013, averaging 550 000 bpd for the year. December gasoline exports set a monthly record of 770 000 bpd.
  • Propane gross exports averaged 300 000 bpd in 2013, a 130 000 bpd increase on the 2012 level. Propane export growth was strongest in the fourth quarter following the September expansion of the Targa Resources export terminal near Houston. Propane exports to Western Europe grew strongly on a percentage basis, more than doubling from 2012 levels to 55 000 bpd last year.

Production increases


Cost advantaged domestic crude oil and natural gas feedstock encouraged near record high refinery runs, and 2013 distillate production increased 160 000 bpd compared with 2012.

US refiners produced an average 4.7 million bpd of distillate fuel for the year, and  during December produced 5.1 million bpd, a record since EIA began collecting data.


Gas plant propane production increased 100 000 bpd in 2013, and refinery propane production increased 10 000 bpd compared to 2012. The 110 000 bpd of propane production growth exceeded domestic consumption growth of 90 000 bpd and helped fuel the increase in exports.

Imports decrease

US imports of petroleum products are generally declining. The US is now a net exporter of most products, with the exceptions of gasoline and unfinished oils.

Although the Gulf coast is a large net exporter of gasoline, the East Coast continues to import substantial amounts. Given existing infrastructure constraints, it is generally more economical for the East Coast to import gasoline, mostly from Europe and Canada.

During most of the year, East coast imports of gasoline cause the US to be a net importer of gasoline. However, during periods of low gasoline demand in the remainder of the US, such as November and December, the US has shifted to become a net gasoline exporter in recent years.

Imports also play a critical role in supplying distillate and propane during the winter, particularly on the East Coast, when local refinery and gas plant production, along with shipments from other regions, are insufficient to meet increases in demand.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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