Between late August and September, U.S. crude oil exports rose to record-high levels after Hurricane Harvey disrupted U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In October 2017, crude oil exports reached a monthly record of more than 1.7 million barrels per day as export facilities reopened, but many refineries weren’t operating at the levels they were before the storm.
The largest increase in U.S. crude oil exports were to Asia, followed by Europe. In September and October, exports to Asia comprised of 40% of total U.S. crude oil exports. Asia received an average of 636,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the United States, or more than twice as much as they were receiving before the hurricane. In the first eight months of 2017, Asia received 35% of total U.S. exports of crude oil, or 312,000 barrels per day.
In September and October, Europe received 31% of U.S. exports of crude oil or 510,000 barrels per day. In the first eight months of 2017, Europe received 22% of total U.S. exports of crude oil, or 193,000 barrels per day.
Before restrictions were lifted on exports of U.S. crude oil in December 2015, Canada had received the most crude oil as it was exempt from the restrictions, according to the EIA.
Between August and September, gross inputs to refineries in the Gulf Coast region declined 13% or by 1.1 million barrels per day. After the hurricane or leading up to it, many refineries shut down or cut operations. Meanwhile, regional crude oil inventories increased by 6.9 million barrels between August and September.
In August, exports of crude oil fell to 772,000 barrels per day, the second lowest level for 2017. But as export facilities resumed operations more quickly than refineries, exports rose to 1.5 million barrels per day in September. By October, inputs to refineries started to reach operation levels similar to before the hurricane. Between late October and the end of 2017, crude oil exports and inputs to refineries remained high, and as a result, inventories of Gulf Coast crude oil have fallen.