Feb 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment
The new normal for crude oil exports
The latest Energy Information Administration weekly data shows that U.S. crude oil exports have averaged above — usually well above — 3 million barrels per day for 12 consecutive weeks.
Why it matters: The weekly data that runs through the end of January is a sign that 3 million-plus is the new normal for U.S. crude exports.
- The growth has been enabled by booming shale production that produces light oil that many refineries are not optimized to run.
- That has created a spillover effect as companies are building new pipeline and port infrastructure to handle the rise.
The intrigue: Politically, it raises the stakes of the White House race. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both called for ending U.S. oil exports as part of their climate platforms.
Worth noting: The weekly data is noisy, but on a multiweek basis it is consistent with more complete monthly data, which arrives after a lag.
- Exports averaged over 3 million barrels per day in November, the most recent period in the monthly tallies, as well as October and September.
Flashback: Legislation to remove heavy export restrictions was enacted at the end of 2015.