In February 2017, crude oil exports from the US hit the highest level in the country’s history with 1,116 kb/d of oil leaving the US border. While Congress liberalized crude exports about a year and half ago, exports have really only bounded up in 2017 from their 2014-2016 averages. Following the surge in tight oil production, most exports moved to Canada, effectively the only legally accessible export market prior to 2016. However, throughout 2016 and going into 2017, the destinations of American crude exports began to vary, with non-Canadian volumes primarily heading for Atlantic basin markets but also several locations in Asia. In February, about a third of crude exports were headed for China.
With such buoyant February export numbers, the US has actually surpassed several members of OPEC in terms of crude oil exports. Although February data is missing for the UAE, Venezuela, and Libya, American crude exports trailed those of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Angola.
US exports surpassed those of OPEC members Algeria, Ecuador, Qatar and other exporters such as Azerbaijan, Colombia, and Oman.
As US crude oil production rebounds in 2017 and going forward, exports are likely to climb even higher through the year and into 2018, especially as requisite infrastructure comes into place and per barrel transportation costs are driven lower.