Petroleum Product Exports Continued to Rise in 2013
Gross exports of petroleum products from the United States reached 4.3 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in December 2013, the first time exports exceeded 4 million bbl/d in a single month (Figure 1). December exports cap a year of steady growth and bring average exports for full-year 2013 to 3.5 million bbl/d, 350,000 bbl/d (11%) higher than in 2012 (Figure 2). The increase in exports was broad-based, affecting multiple products.
Average distillate fuel gross exports exceeded 1.1 million bbl/d in 2013, a 110,000-bbl/d increase over the 2012 level. Cost-advantaged domestic crude oil and natural gas feedstock encouraged near-record-high refinery runs, and 2013 distillate production increased 160,000 bbl/d compared with 2012. For the year, U.S. refiners produced an average 4.7 million bbl/d of distillate fuel, and during December produced 5.1 million bbl/d, a record since EIA began collecting those data. The strongest absolute growth in distillate exports last year was to Central and South America, already the largest destination for U.S.-produced distillate fuel. U.S. exports to that region increased 60,000 bbl/d to 550,000 bbl/d. Exports to Western Europe increased by 50,000 bbl/d to average 400,000 bbl/d.
Exports of gasoline, jet fuel and pentanes plus, a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons that is similar to natural gasoline and extracted from natural gas in a gas processing plant, also increased in 2013. Gasoline exports, which include finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, increased 45,000 bbl/d in 2013, averaging 550,000 bbl/d for the year. December gasoline exports set a monthly record of 770,000 bbl/d.
Propane gross exports averaged 300,000 bbl/d in 2013, a 130,000-bbl/d increase over the 2012 level. In 2013, gas plant propane production increased 100,000 bbl/d and refinery propane production increased 10,000 bbl/d, respectively, compared to 2012. The 110,000 bbl/d of propane production growth exceeded domestic consumption growth of 90,000 bbl/d and helped fuel the increase in exports. Propane export growth was strongest in the fourth quarter following the September expansion of the Targa Resources export terminal near Houston. Almost half of all 2013 propane exports were to Central and South America. Propane exports to Western Europe grew strongly on a percentage basis, more than doubling from 2012 levels to 55,000 bbl/d last year.
EIA estimates that from 2008 through 2013, global consumption of petroleum products excluding the United States increased 6.5 million bbl/d (7.6%), during a period when U.S. petroleum product consumption was generally declining. Since 2008, exports of petroleum products from the United States have increased 1.7 million bbl/d, supplying about 25% of the growth in petroleum product demand outside of the United States. About 75% of U.S. product exports leave from the Gulf Coast (USGC), home to about half the country's refining capacity. Close proximity to Latin America has long enabled USGC refineries to competitively supply products to that region. More recently, with limited additional opportunity to economically supply other regions of the United States and with Latin American exports already at high levels, USGC production is moving to more distant markets. Exports of petroleum products from the USGC to Africa, as well as Asia and Oceania, increased by 56,000 bbl/d (81%) and 97,000 bbl/d (44%), respectively, in 2013.