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US crude oil imports continue to decline

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), weekly imports of crude oil to the US fell below 7 million bpd during the week ending 10th January for only the second time since January 2000.

Higher domestic crude production has been a key driver to reduced imports over the past couple of years. Production averaged 7.4 million bpd through October 2013 (the last month for which data is available). Imports fell over the same period, and averaged 7.7 million bpd in the first 10 months of 2011.

Seasonal factors are also partly responsible. The declines reflected in recent weekly data are likely the result of decreased crude buying ahead of refinery maintenance season.

Average imports typically fall approximately 300 000 bpd from the end of October through the second week of January, a decline similar to the drop in four week average imports observed in most recent weekly data over that period.

The decline in crude imports is not uniform across all regions. Declines have been most pronounced in PADD 3 (Gulf Coast) and PADD 1 (East Coast). Meanwhile, imports to PADD 2 (Midwest) are actually increasing.

Midwest refineries are processing increased amounts of crude oil imported from Canada, despite production growth within the region itself, mostly from North Dakota’s Bakken tight oil formation. Growing production from the Bakken crude is therefore increasingly being moved via railroad to the East and West coasts.

Gasoline and diesel prices fall

US average retail price of regular gasoline decreased three cents to US$ 3.30/gal. as of 20th January, 2014 rendering it two cents lower than the same time last year.

Prices decreased in all regions. The largest decrease was in the Midwest, where the price was five cents lower than last week at US$ 3.20/gal. The West Coast price fell three cents to US$ 3.49/gal. and the East Coast price was US$ 3.39/gal. The Gulf Coast price lost a penny to total US$ 3.10/gal., while the Rocky Mountain price decreased less than a cent to remain at US$ 3.15/gal.

National average diesel fuel price fell one cent to US$ 3.87/gal., three cents lower than last year at this time. The East Coast price rose one cent to US$ 3.95/gal. while prices in the rest of the nation fell. The West Coast and Rocky Mountain prices both dropped three cents to US$ 3.97/gal. and US$ 3.86/gal., respectively. The Midwest price was US$ 3.83 per gallon, a decrease of two cents, and the Gulf Coast price lost one cent to US$ 3.77/gal.

US propane stocks fell by 3.4 million bbls to end at 35.3 million bbls last week, 25.6 million bbls (42.1%) lower than a year ago. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 10.3% of total propane inventories.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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