Petroleum product exports are on track for another banner year, with total exports climbing to a 3.7 million barrels per day (bbpd) average for 2014 from just under 3.5 million bbpd in 2013. However, on the East Coast, imports for some fuels increased by almost 50% in the first half of 2014.
According to a report published on Thursday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. exports of refined petroleum products are primarily from the Gulf Coast, with this region accounting for 72% of recent growth. Over half of the total U.S. crude oil refining capacity is located in the Gulf Coast region, primarily in Texas and Louisiana.
However, despite increases in Gulf Coast production, the East Coast still imports both gasoline and distillates (in other words, diesel and fuel oil for space heating). And, while a significant amount of these imports come from the Gulf Coast via pipelines, barges, and tankers, pipeline capacity and other shipping constraints limit how much can be transferred between U.S. regions.
From January through June 2014, gasoline imports to the North East averaged 536,000 bbpd, which was 15% less than in the same period in 2013. Distillate imports for the same periods increased from 145,000 bbpd (2013) to 217,000 bbpd (2014). This increase has been attributed to cold weather over the winter, which increased fuel oil demand.
Overall, the U.S. remains a net importer of crude oil and refined petroleum products. But, data from the EIA show that reliance on oil from other countries has been declining over the past 8 years, from its peak in August 2006.
But, despite this declining trend for the nation, not all regions are experiencing this overall trend.