Some highlights from this month’s Energy Information Analysis oil report, covering data in January.
- Crude exports set a one-month record of 245,000 b/d, all of it to Canada. Only once before had that been topped: all the way back in April 1999, when there was a failed flirtation with sending Alaska North Slope crude to Asia. It didn’t last. There was also a surge in crude exports in late 1956 to early 1957 (and despite the author’s age and duration at Platts, I do not recall the reasons). The prior post-shale record was 202,000 b/d in November.
- Total net imports were 5.243 million b/d, up from 5.057 million b/d a month earlier. That’s still the second lowest in the post-shale era.
- Crude imports from Canada of 2.850 million b/d just barely set a record, the prior record just 45,000 b/d less, in February 2012. Mexican crude imports were 981,000 b/d, the fourth consecutive month of an increase. It had been looking like Mexico might ultimately become a net importer vis-a-vis the US. But US net imports of total petroleum from Mexico of 535,000 b/d were the most since 584,000 b/d one year earlier.
- Total US products exports were 4.021 million b/d, not as much as 4.444 million b/d a month earlier, but still the second-most ever. There were no particular big shifts from a month earlier. Total distillate exports were 1.105 million b/d; the record is 1.383 million b/d last July.Finished gasoline exports of 529,000 b/d have been exceeded multiple times.
- Refineries operated at 87.2% of capacity. That’s the highest for a January in three years.
- There are some changes that don’t appear to make sense on the surface. For example, the gravity of the average oil inputted into US refineries is dropping despite the light nature of the shale boom. For eight of 13 months in 2012 and January 2013, average gravity inputted to US refineries was in excess of 31. Since that time, it has been less than 31 every month. Sulfur content is also rising; it has been in excess of 1.5% for two months in a row, the first time that’s ever happened.
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