U.S. petroleum product exports totaled nearly 6.0 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first half of 2023, 2% more than during the same period in 2022. The first half of 2023 saw the most U.S. petroleum product exports during the first six months of any year in our Petroleum Supply Monthly data, which date back to 1981.
U.S. petroleum product exports increased significantly in the 2000s and 2010s because of a number of factors, including the increasing competitiveness and efficiency of production at U.S. refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast and increasing hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs) production associated with rising U.S. upstream oil and natural gas production. Propane and other HGL exports in the first half of 2023 drove the overall increase in petroleum product exports. Exports of other major petroleum products such as motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, and jet fuel all decreased compared with the first half of 2022. Petroleum product exports grew more slowly in the first half of 2023 than in the first half of 2022, when they quickly rose to meet increased demand in Europe after the region took measures to reduce petroleum product imports from Russia.
Propane was the most-exported U.S. petroleum product in the first half of 2023, averaging 1.5 million b/d and continuing a trend that began in 2020. U.S. propane exports have been driving increases in U.S. petroleum product exports for the past four years.
U.S. propane and other HGL exports to Asia have grown rapidly in recent years. Propane exports to destinations in Europe decreased compared with the first half of 2022, as did propane exports to destinations in Central America and South America. HGL exports other than propane were also significant drivers of export growth in the first half of 2023, increasing by 9% (85,000 b/d) compared with the first half of 2022.
The United States exported 1.1 million b/d of distillate fuel oil in the first half of 2023, 5% less than at the same time last year, because of lower exports to destinations in Central America and South America. Despite the decrease, most U.S. distillate exports go to Central America and South America, together accounting for 57% of all U.S. distillate exports.
Despite lower total distillate exports, distillate exports to Europe increased in the first half of 2023 compared with the first half of 2022, following the EU’s complete import ban on Russia’s petroleum products from the beginning of 2023. U.S. distillate fuel oil exports to destinations in Europe averaged 138,000 b/d in the first half of 2023 compared with 56,000 b/d in the first half of 2022.
Principal contributor: Kevin Hack