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US petroleum product exports continue to rise

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Energy Global,

Total US petroleum product exports continued to increase in 2015, up 467 000 bpd from 2014 to 4.3 million bpd, driven by increased exports of distillate fuel, motor gasoline, and propane. Mexico and countries in Central and South America continue to be major recipients of US petroleum product exports.

Exports of distillate fuel oil represent the largest component of U.S. petroleum product exports, and averaged 1.19 million bpd in 2015, an increase of 85 000 bpd from 2014. The US exported distillate fuel to 88 different countries in 2015. The top destination for US distillate exports was Mexico, averaging 143 000 bpd in 2015, an increase of 15 000 bpd from the previous year. Distillate exports to Central and South America averaged 595 000 bpd in 2015, up 10 000 bpd from the previous year. Chile was the region's largest single importer of US distillate in 2015, averaging 101 000 bpd.

As continued high US refinery runs and a warmer-than-normal heating season combined to push US distillate inventories above the five year average and combined to push prices lower, exports of distillate to Western Europe also increased. In the third and fourth quarters of 2015, distillate exports to Western Europe increased year-over-year by 80 000 bpd and 136 000 bpd, respectively. Increased US exports contributed to high distillate inventories, in the major refining and petroleum hubs of Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and Antwerp in Belgium, collectively known as the ARA.

Motor gasoline was the second largest US petroleum product export in 2015, averaging 618 000 bpd and exported to 102 different countries, up 68 000 bpd from 2014. As with distillate, Mexico is the largest recipient of U.S. motor gasoline exports, averaging 307 000 bpd in 2015. Central and South America are also a major destination for U.S. motor gasoline exports, receiving 228 000 bpd in 2015, up 29 000 bpd from 2014. US exports of motor gasoline to Africa decreased by 28 000 bpd in 2015 compared with 2014, mostly because of lower exports to Nigeria, one of Africa's largest gasoline importers, as fuel import programme reforms took place in that country.

US exports of propane nearly matched those of motor gasoline at 615 000 bpd in 2015, up 193 000 bpd from the previous year. Low US propane prices have encouraged the expansion of propane export capacity since 2013. Unlike exports of distillate and motor gasoline, US propane exports are destined mainly for Asia, averaging 220 000 bpd in 2015, an increase of 138 000 bpd over 2014. Asia is expected to be the leading source of global propane consumption growth, with an expanding petrochemical sector as the main driver.

Some of the imports from the United States in the region encompassing Central and South America in 2015 reflected supply constraints that are likely to be temporary. For example, Ecuadorian demand for US gasoline increased while PetroEcuador's 110 000 bpd Esmeraldas refinery was closed for most of the year for a major upgrade. Colombian demand for US gasoline and distillate supplies increased after a reduction in supply from neighboring Venezuela and after delays in the opening of Ecopetrol's new 165 000 bpd refinery in Cartagena. Supplies from the new and upgraded refineries in Ecuador and Colombia, along with Petrobras's new 230 000 bpd Abreu e Lima refinery in Brazil, have the potential to reduce that country's need for gasoline and distillate imports from the United States.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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