U.S. exports of petroleum products rose by 366,000 barrels per day to a record high of 5.6 million barrels per day in 2018, from 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The largest exports of petroleum products were distillate, propane and motor gasoline. Exports of motor gasoline, including blending components, and propane rose to record highs in 2018, and exports of distillate reached the second-highest level on record after hitting a high in 2017.
Exports of petroleum products set a record high in 2018 for the 16th consecutive year. Distillate exports contributed the most to the growth between 2009 and 2013. Exports of hydrocarbon gas liquids, including propane, contributed the most to the growth between 2014 and 2018.
Over the past decade, U.S. crude oil production rose, while gross inputs into refineries increased. Petroleum products are used domestically, exported or stored. Record-high levels of crude oil production and refinery runs in 2018 led refiners to export large amounts of petroleum products, even with high levels of domestic demand.
Distillate was the most exported petroleum product in 2018, and the exports were 1.3 million barrels per day, or about 25% of U.S. refinery net production. Distillate exports were more than 100,000 barrels per day higher than the previous five-year average (2013-2017). The United States exported distillate to 64 destinations in 2018, with the largest amount going to Mexico.
The exports to Mexico rose by 42,000 barrels per day to an average of 298,000 barrels per day in 2018, from 2017. Mexico received 23% of the exports, and the rise in the exports to the country was likely a result of refineries there running below capacity in 2018. Brazil received 12% of U.S. distillate exports. Chile, Peru and the Netherlands were other top recipients of the exports.
U.S. propane exports rose to a record high of 972,000 barrels per day in 2018 and surpassed the 2017 record of 914,000 barrels per day. Propane exports exceeded motor gasoline exports for the third consecutive year. Japan received the largest share of the propane exports, 7% of the exports, or more than 258,000 barrels per day in 2018, an increase of 48,000 barrels per day from 2017. Exports to Korea and the Netherlands rose by 25,000 barrels per day and 21,000 barrels per day, respectively. Exports to China declined 49%, or by 62,000 barrels per day. Mexico received the second-largest amount of the exports, 131,000 barrels per day, a decline of 7,000 barrels per day in 2018, from 2017.
Exports of motor gasoline, including blending components, reached 44 destinations in 2018 and set a record high of 951,000 barrels per day in 2018, up 126,000 barrels per day from 2017. The record came as domestic gasoline consumption was 9.3 million barrels per day in 2018, down slightly from a record high set in 2017. U.S. refiner and blender net production of finished motor gasoline rose more than 100,000 barrels per day to a record high of 10.1 million barrels per day in 2018, and this helped to contribute to high levels of domestic consumption and export volumes.
Mexico received 56%, or 529,000 barrels per day, of U.S. gasoline exports, and this was an increase of 60,000 barrels per day from 2017. The exports to Canada rose by 25,000 barrels per day to 62,000 barrels per day, or 6% of the exports in 2018.