US exports of non-crude petroleum products averaged a record 3.8 million bpd in 2014, an increase of 347 000 bpd from 2013, based on data from the EIA. In particular, exports of motor gasoline, propane, and butane increased, offsetting a decrease in distillate exports.
The combination of record high US refinery runs (which averaged 16.1 million bpd in 2014) and increased global demand for petroleum products allowed US petroleum product exports to increase for the 13th consecutive year. These exports are mostly sent to nearby markets in Central America and South America, followed by exports to other countries in North America (Canada and Mexico). US petroleum product exports increased in every region except the Middle East, which declined from 55 000 bpd in 2013 to 47 000 bpd in 2014. However, in 2014 there was more change, both in quantity exported and destination, for specific products: motor gasoline, propane, butane and distillate.
December 2014 exports of motor gasoline, which include finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, set a monthly record of 875 000 bpd, according to the data. Increased US production and capacity to export hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL), particularly on the Gulf Coast, allowed exports of propane and butane in 2014 to increase by 121 000 bpd (40%) and 44 000 bpd (149%), respectively, over 2013 levels. Exports of propane to Asia, particularly Japan and China, nearly doubled in 2014 from 2013, increasing by 40 000 bpd (95%).
Exports of butane, which shares some uses with propane but is more suitable for use in warmer climates, grew to 74 000 bpd. In 2014, the US exported 20 000 bpd of butane to Africa, an increase of 17 200 bpd (628%) from a year earlier, making Africa now the largest recipient for US exports of butane.
US distillate exports declined for the first time since 2004. Almost all of this decrease is attributable to declines in exports to Western Europe and Africa, where distillate exports fell by 61 000 bpd (15%) and 8700 bpd (35%), respectively, in 2014. In the second half of the year, increased European refinery runs, exports from recently upgraded Russian refineries, and new refinery capacity in the Middle East increased supply to European distillate markets, reducing the need for distillate from the US.
Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling
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