The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has announced that US crude oil exports hit record highs once facilities reopened following the disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey.
The EIA’s ‘Petroleum Supply Monthly’ suggests that crude oil exports hot a montlhy record of 1.7 million bpd in October 2017, with the largest increases in exports to Asia, followed by Europe.
Exports to Asian countries accounted for 35% of total US exports of crude oil in the first eight months of 2017, averaging 312 000 bpd. In September and October, exports to Asia accounted for 40% of total US exports of crude oil, averaging 636 000 bpd, or more than double their pre-Harvey levels.
Similarly, exports to European countries accounted for 22% of total US exports of crude oil in the first eight months of 2017, averaging 193 000 bpd. In September and October, exports to Europe averaged 510 000 bpd, which accounted for 31% of US exports of crude oil.
Many refineries in the US Gulf Coast either reduced operations or shut down leading up to or in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. From August through September, gross inputs to refineries in the Gulf Coast region fell by 1.1 million bpd, a 13% decrease. Over the same period, regional crude oil inventories increased by 6.9 million bbls.
Although many export facilities in the Gulf Coast reduced operations or shut down because of Harvey, export facilities returned to operation following the hurricane faster than refineries. Exports of crude oil in August were the second lowest for 2017 at 772 000 bpd, but in September they reached a then-record high of 1.5 million bpd, most of which went to Asian markets. Inputs to refineries in the Gulf Coast region began reaching pre-Harvey levels in October.
With Gulf Coast refinery runs back to pre-Harvey levels and exports of crude oil reaching another record high in October of 1.7 million bpd, Gulf Coast crude oil inventories registered a draw of 19.9 million bbls. Most crude oil exports in October also went to Asia, providing evidence that the marginal competitive market for US crude oil is Asia. According to data in the EIA’s ‘Weekly Petroleum Status Report’, from late October through the end of 2017, exports of crude oil and inputs to Gulf Coast refineries remained relatively high, resulting in a continued decrease in Gulf Coast crude oil inventories to continue to decrease.
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