U.S. crude oil exports nearly double, Canada receives largest share
U.S. crude oil exports nearly doubled to 1.1 million barrels per day in 2017, from 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Last year was the second full year since restrictions were removed on crude oil exports, and they rose as production increased and infrastructure was expanded.
Destinations for the exports rose to 37 in 2017, from 27 in 2016, according to the EIA. Canada received 29% of the exports in 2017, down from 61% in 2016. China received 20% of the exports, surpassing the United Kingdom (9%) and the Netherlands (8%) in its share of the exports. The following European countries were among the largest destinations for the exports: Italy (4%), France (2.7%) and Spain (2%). India, which didn’t receive any of the exports in 2016, received 22,000 barrels per day — the same amount as Spain — and tied for the 10th-largest destination in 2017.
Crude oil comprises of 18% of total U.S. petroleum exports, and it’s the third largest petroleum export after hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) and distillate fuel. Before the restrictions on crude oil exports were removed in December 2015, most of the increases in petroleum exports were largely HGLs — such as propane — distillate fuel and motor gasoline.
Before the restrictions were lifted, the largest share of total U.S. petroleum exports was 13% in 1999 when they were almost 1 million barrels per day, 530% less than the 6.3 million barrels per day total in 2017.
U.S. crude oil production increased by 0.5 million barrels per day to 9.3 million barrels per day in 2017, from 2016. Last year, several pipelines were added or expanded to move crude oil from producing regions, mostly in the Permian basin of Texas and New Mexico, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Along the coast, export infrastructure was expanded in ports, including in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Houston, and in ports along the Mississippi River in Louisiana, allowing for increased exports.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices were about $3.36 per barrel less than Brent prices in 2017 and provided for an incentive to export U.S. crude oil internationally. WTI represents domestic prices, while Brent represents international prices.
In 2018, the spread between the two prices is expected to be $3.96 per barrel, and U.S. crude oil production is expected to rise by 1.4 million barrels per day.