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Today in Energy

December 11, 2015

Mexican crude oil shipments to Europe and Asia are rising as U.S. imports fall

graph of Mexican crude oil exports by destination, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, with data from Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex)

Republished December 14, 9:00 a.m. to correct an error in the graph.

In September 2015, monthly U.S. crude oil imports from Mexico totaled 0.6 million barrels per day (b/d), the lowest level since 1990, and a decrease of about 50% since January 2011. Meanwhile, Mexico's exports of heavy crude oil to Asia and light crude oil to Europe rose, according to data from Mexico's national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Most of Mexico's exports are of heavy crude oil, which Pemex defines as crude oil with an API gravity equal to or below 27 degrees. Heavy crude oil volumes sent to U.S. Gulf Coast (Petroleum Administration for Defense District 3) refineries have fallen as new infrastructure has allowed greater volumes of Western Canadian Select heavy crude oil to reach PADD 3 refineries. In addition, production of Maya crude oil from the offshore Cantarell field, traditionally Mexico's largest oil field, has decreased significantly. As Mexican heavy crude oil exports to the United States have decreased, increasing volumes have been sold to Asian markets, especially India, and to a lesser extent South Korea and Japan. Greater volumes of heavy crude oil have been processed in Mexico's domestic refineries, partially offsetting a decline in processed volumes of lighter domestic crude types.

graph of changes in Mexico's crude oil trade, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, with data from Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex)

A drop in Mexican exports of light crude oil (API gravity above 38 degrees) to the United States has been largely offset by increased light crude exports to Europe, especially Spain. Smaller volumes of Mexico's light crude oil have been exported to European countries such as Italy, France, and the Netherlands.

graph of total crude oil exports from Mexico to European and Asian destinations, as explained in the article text
Source: Mexican department of commerce online trade information system SIAVI
Note: 2015 data reflect January through September.

Principal contributor: Michael Ford