4 October 2018

Shale Oil Propels U.S. Crude Export Increase

Crude oil exports from the U.S. are rising, reaching 2.2 million barrels per day (mb/d) in June 2018, triple the 2016 average and the highest ever for the nation. More than 90 percent of crude exports this year have originated on the Gulf Coast, generating jobs, capital and income for ports in Houston and Corpus Christi.

Such exports were at a trickle before Congress lifted a federal crude oil export ban that had been in place since 1975. The change, which took effect in December 2015, allows U.S. producers to sell oil directly to the global market at a time when shale oil production is high and rising

U.S. crude oil production has grown steadily since 2008, reaching a record of more than 10 mb/d this year, with 12 mb/d expected by the end of 2019, according to the Energy Information Administration. Shale oil accounts for 99 percent of the production growth. Shale yields a light-sweet crude oil, requiring a simple refining configuration to produce gasoline and diesel.

As domestic crude production declined in the 1990s and 2000s, U.S. refiners made significant investments in their refining capabilities to process imported heavy-sour crude, primarily from Venezuela and nearby Mexico and Canada. Heavy-sour crude, which is generally cheaper than light sweet, provided greater profitability for refiners

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