The number of destinations to which the United States exports crude oil exceeded the number of sources from which it imports crude oil in the first seven months of 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Over this period, U.S. crude oil exports rose to 2.8 million barrels per day, while the number of export destinations has also increased. The destinations include countries, territories, autonomous regions and other administrative regions. The number of sources from which the United States imports crude oil has fallen to 27 over the period, from as many as 37 sources in 2009. Meanwhile, the number of destinations to which U.S. exports of crude oil have gone has increased to as many as 31 destinations per month.
The rise in the number of export destinations coincided with the late 2015 lifting of restrictions on exporting domestic crude oil. Between January 2016 and July 2019, U.S. crude oil production rose 2.6 million barrels per day, and export volumes increased 2.2 million barrels per day.
The decline in the number of import sources has fallen as domestic production of crude oil has risen. The majority of the increase in production can be attributed to light-sweet crude oil, but most U.S. refineries process medium- to heavy-sour crude oil. As a result, refineries have displaced imports of light and medium crude oils from countries other than Canada and increased refinery use rates.
The United States has exported crude oil to more destinations because of increasing demand for light-sweet crude oil. Several infrastructure changes have been made to accommodate exports. Pipelines have been added, expanded or reversed to deliver the oil from production areas to export terminals. The terminals have been expanded to allow for an increased amount of oil tanker traffic, larger crude oil tankers and larger cargo sizes.
New restrictions related to the limiting of sulfur content of transportation fuels also have impacted demand for light-sweet crude oil. Many of the less complex refineries outside of the United States cannot process and remove sulfur from heavy-sour crude oils and are better suited to process light-sweet crude oil into transportation fuels with lower sulfur content.