Energy Intelligence - US Crude Exports Diversify as Europe's Share Rises

June 2, 2023 – Energy Intelligence

US Crude Exports Diversify as Europe's Share Rises

By Frans Koster

Continued growth in US crude exports is virtually guaranteed as long as production keeps rising. Experts say this dynamic is the result of shale production, which tends to yield light, sweet crude as well as condensate and natural gas liquids in abundance.

The domestic downstream’s configuration, in contrast, is geared towards heavier, higher-sulfur feedstock. “Before [shale], exports of US-sourced crude oil and petroleum products registered only as blips on the radar, a few hundred thousand barrels per day in total," said Housely Carr of RBN Energy. "But the sharp rise in US oil production through the 2010s — and, importantly, the lifting of the ban on most crude exports in December 2015 — ushered in a new era. Three of every five barrels of crude oil produced in the US are exported, either as crude oil or in the form of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or other petroleum products.”

EIA data paints an even starker picture — since December 2015, domestic crude output has grown by some 3.4 million b/d. Over that same time period, crude exports have swelled by a whopping 4.4 million b/d. In other words, export markets are not only consuming all incremental production since restrictions were lifted, they have eaten into preexisting patterns.

Moreover, North America has lost some 1 million b/d in refinery throughputs since 2019 alone amid ESG pressures, unplanned and catastrophic outages, and storm damage. Another 268,000 b/d in capacity will go off line by 2025 when LyondellBasell closes its Houston facility.

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