Consider this fact: Three of every five barrels of crude oil produced in the U.S. are exported, either as crude oil or in the form of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or other petroleum products. Sure, large volumes of crude and products are still being imported, but the net import number is dwindling toward zero — and if you count NGLs (ethane, propane, etc.) in the liquid fuels balance, the U.S. has been a net exporter since 2020. Yes, folks, exports are now calling the shots, and the role of exports is only going to become larger over the next few years. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our new Drill Down Report on crude oil and product exports and why they matter more now than ever.
Before the Shale Revolution changed everything, exports of U.S.-sourced crude oil and petroleum products registered only as blips on the radar, a few hundred thousand barrels a day in total. But the sharp rise in U.S. oil production through the 2010s — and, importantly, the lifting of the ban on most crude exports in December 2015 — ushered in a new era. Lately, it’s become a regular thing to see 4 MMb/d or more of oil shipped out of marine terminals along the Gulf Coast, and refineries — especially those in Texas and Louisiana — are exporting a substantial portion of their output too.
As we say in our new Drill Down Report on crude oil and product exports, these shipments to foreign lands are now calling the shots — and having remarkable impacts on U.S. liquid fuel flow patterns, price differentials, infrastructure utilization and, to a great extent, the winners and losers in crude oil and product markets. And things are only going to get more intense as export economics increasingly determine which pipelines, refineries and port facilities capture production growth from the Permian and other basins.
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