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US gasoline exports reshape Atlantic Basin trade flows

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Gasoline flows in the Atlantic Basin are changing, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Before 2012, trade was relatively predictable. Cargoes from Europe, Canada, and the Caribbean were exported to the US East Coast. European cargoes were also supplied to Africa and Latin America. Meanwhile, the US exported more modest amounts from the Gulf Coast to Latin America, primarily Mexico.

Today, US refiners have become more active participants in the Atlantic Basin gasoline market. Average US Gulf Coast exports to Latin America for January – September increased from 74 000 bpd in 2011 to 96 000 bpd in 2012. Exports have averaged 105 000 bpd in 2013.

US exports of gasoline from the US to West Africa have also increased notably. While exports to West Africa averaged only 6000 bpd in 2012, in 2013 they have averaged 26 000 bpd. August set the highest export on record at 53 000 bpd.

The increase in exports to West Africa, a market traditionally supplied by Europe, signals the increased competitiveness of US gasoline exports to new markets. Access to less expensive crude oil and natural gas has rendered US refineries greater able to compete, boosting refinery runs and putting Gulf Coast refineries at an advantage.

Despite this, the East Coast is still also a significant importer of gasoline. Limitations on product pipelines serving the region from the Gulf Coast and the high cost of coastwise shipments between US ports constrains domestic capacity in the region. In September, the latest month for which data is available, the East Coast imported 501 000 bpd of gasoline.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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