Feb 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The new normal for crude oil exports

Data: EIA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

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.

Go deeper

The U.S. is not energy independent

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new Energy Information Administration report shows that while late last year the U.S. became a consistent net exporter of petroleum (that is, crude oil and refined products combined), regions outside the Gulf Coast remain importers.

Why it matters: While it's not discussed in the EIA analysis, President Trump boasted in this week's State of the Union that the U.S. is "now energy independent."

Coronavirus outbreak sparks cutback in 2020 oil demand predictions

Photo: Geovien So/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Energy Information Administration is trimming its 2020 oil demand forecast by 300,000 barrels per day, citing the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of how the outbreak is changing oil market forecasts and creating headwinds for a sector already struggling with middling prices.

Dissecting Trump's State of the Union energy claims

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump talked up the U.S. energy boom and sought to make it into a political asset during Tuesday night's State of the Union.

Why it matters: Energy has been prominent in the 2020 White House race.