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U.S. crude oil exports jumped back above two million barrels per day in the week ending Feb. 16, which is just the second time this level has been reached since heavy restrictions ended in late 2015.

Expand chart
Data: Energy Information Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

The last jump: It came in the weeks after Hurricane Harvey took a lot of refinery capacity offline, according to Energy Information Administration data.

There are 2 main trends behind the U.S. becoming an increasingly prominent player in global crude markets the U.S. oil production boom and the export policy change.

  • But there's also lots of variation week to week even as the general trend is upward.
  • The swirl of factors behind the most recent weekly surge of roughly 700,000 barrels per day likely include maintenance at Gulf Coast refineries, which leaves more barrels looking for a home.

Quick take: "Crude demand from refineries is down for seasonal maintenance, while U.S. crude production is at all-time highs; the surplus is driving strong exports," Citibank analysts said in a note yesterday.

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

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