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U.S. crude oil exports hit a record high

U.S. exports of crude oil surged to average 3 million barrels per day for the week ending June 22, by far the highest level ever, according to newly released data from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Data: Energy Information Administration; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: The record signals how the U.S. has become an increasingly powerful force in global crude oil markets as domestic production, already at record levels, inches closer to reaching 11 million barrels per day.

Background: The prior weekly average record was 2.57 million barrels per day in early-mid May, and the next highest was 2.37 million for the week ending June 15.

  • One level deeper: a number of forces have been pushing exports higher since the extremely heavy restrictions were lifted in a late 2015 law.

Rising domestic production of light oil, rising global demand, and the wide discount between the price of U.S. crude and the global Brent benchmark in recent weeks are all helping more U.S. crude find its way offshore.

Of the 10 times exports have averaged over 2 million barrels per day for a week, nine of them have occurred this year.

State of the market today: crude oil prices are climbing after the weekly EIA data dump also showed a big drop — 9.9 million barrels — in U.S. commercial crude oil stockpiles.

That adds to other forces pushing prices higher, including yesterday's announcement by a State Department official that the U.S. does not plan to grants sanctions waivers to buyers of Iranian crude when the penalties are reimposed this fall.

West Texas Intermediate has risen by roughly $2 per barrel in trading on Wednesday to the mid-$72 range as of late morning. Brent prices have also risen today.