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US petroleum exports

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

During the first eight months of this year, compared to 2012, averaged exports to the Netherlands fell by 33 0000 bpd. The Netherlands is the US’ third largest export destination for petroleum products and ranks among the largest importers of petroleum products in the world. Yet, International Energy Agency (IEA) statistics show that only 27% of the imports received are actually consumed within the country and recent disruptions in transport networks have highlighted the key role that the Netherlands plays in delivering exported US petroleum products to northwest Europe.

An integral cog
The Netherlands is home to the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which together with Antwerp and Belgium, host large petroleum product import, storage and distribution terminals from multiple European countries. From these terminals countries across Europe can be supplied by canal and river transport. The port of Rotterdam alone has a storage capacity of 80 million bbls of crude. The three ports are known globally as ARA and it is a pricing point for many petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel fuel.

Final destination
EIA export data shows a destination for export shipments, however the destination is not always the final delivery location as it could just be a stop off point. When an export’s ultimate destination is not specified, then an export is credited to the last country in which the product remained in the same form, therefore, the Netherlands and Belgium appear to import far more petroleum product than they consume. The ARA has in fact been proven as a distribution hub for petroleum products.

Export problems
During the early months of this year, heavy spring rains caused widespread flooding along the Rhine River and portions of the river were completely closed to barge traffic. In the summer months, low river levels forced barges to carry lighter cargoes to ensure safe transit. Also, throughout the early summer of this year, strikes were held by German canal operators and this caused barge traffic to back up along the river.

The disruptions resulted in drops in US petroleum product exports to the Netherlands by 14%, Germany by 50% and Switzerland by 77% year on year. Some of the drop in exports to the Netherlands can be attributed to the German disruptions because of the way data is collected and products are first transported through the Netherlands. Belgium was relatively unaffected by the disruptions and imported 88% more petroleum products from the US in the first 8 months of this year than it did in 2012. Exports to France, which has other large ports and transport routes, remained roughly unchanged form 2012 figures.

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd

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