US Oil Exports

Posted by Jeff Collins on June 15, 2011 0 Comments

While some Americans cut back on driving as gas prices soar, U.S. has become a net exporter of fuel for the first time in nearly 20 years. According to data from the Energy Department, starting last November -- with the exception of the month of January -- U.S. began exporting more petroleum products than it imported. In February, the U.S. exported 54,000 more barrels of petroleum products each day than it purchased abroad, with diesel and finished petrol leading the increase. According to the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, U.S. refined product exports rose in the first quarter of 2011 to 2.49 million barrels per day, a 24.4 percent year-over-year increase, the Financial Times reports.  In the first quarter of 2011, imports dropped to 2.26 million barrels a day, a 14.4 percent year-over-year decline.

Analysts attribute the increase in exports to a combination of overlapping factors: unrest in the Middle East leading to higher oil prices, a weak U.S. dollar and increased spending power abroad, particularly in Latin America. "The U.S. is exporting quite a bit now to Latin American because the markets are quite lucrative there and the reality is that they can get a better price by exporting it," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of IHS. "It's a free market, and if refiners can get higher prices in other parts of the world, they'll sell it. It's just the reality. It's the free market at work.

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