Oil: The US becomes a net oil exporter

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12/13/2018 | 05:41 pm
The United States reached a symbolic milestone during the last week of November. For the first time since 1991, it exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported.

This new status is due to the rapid growth of American production, driven by the rapid development of "shale oil", which now reaches record levels of over 11.5 million barrels per day. US refineries are thus operating at full capacity and are literally flooding the domestic market with petroleum products to the extent that refinery supply exceeds the growth in US consumption of gasoline, fuel oil or propane.

This excess is cancelled by exports, especially as the United States intensifies its efforts to equip itself with high-capacity oil terminals (able to accommodate VLCC-type super tankers).

American oil finds new outlets in India, South Korea and Taiwan, with the Chinese destination temporarily suspended due to Sino-American trade disputes.

At the same time, there is a downward trend in crude oil imports, especially from countries that supply light oil such as Nigerian and Algerian crude oil (see above), which refiners have replaced with American oil.

Until the last week of November, the United States have always been a net importer of crude oil. According to September data provided by the EIA, US crude oil imports amounted to 7.6 million barrels per day (mbd), compared to exports of around 2.1 mbd. Letís remember that US refineries intrinsically need heavy oil, a quality of crude oil not available in quantity on the national territory, to blend with shale oil, which is too light to establish their product mix. This oil comes mainly from Alberta's oil sands, whose imports do not decline, to the great dismay of Canadian players going through a major crisis.  
Jordan Dufee
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