Hurricane Harvey disrupted U.S. Gulf Coast refining operations from late August to September in 2017, and pausing operations led to record-high U.S. crude oil exports when facilities reopened after the storm, the EIA reported today.

In October 2017, crude oil exports from the United States reached a monthly record of more than 1.7 MMBOPD. The EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly data for October 2017 showed that the largest increases in U.S. crude oil exports were to Asia, followed by Europe.

U.S. Crude Exports Jump to Record Level After Harvey Disrupts Refining

Asia takes 35% of U.S. exported crude oil Jan.-Aug. 2017; snags 40% of U.S. exports in Sept.-Oct.

According to the EIA, exports to Asian countries accounted for 35% of total U.S. exports of crude oil in the first eight months of 2017, averaging 312,000 BOPD. In September and October, exports to Asia accounted for 40% of total U.S. exports of crude oil, averaging 636,000 BOPD, or more than double their pre-Harvey levels.

Likewise, exports to European countries accounted for 22% of total U.S. exports of crude oil in the first eight months of 2017, averaging 193,000 BOPD. In September and October, exports to Europe averaged 510,000 BOPD, which accounted for 31% of U.S. exports of crude oil.

Increased inputs, reduced exports and higher inventories

U.S. Crude Exports Jump to Record Level After Harvey Disrupts Refining

EIA US Crude Oil Imports, Exports and Inventories, June – Oct. 2017

The EIA said that most refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast were either shut down or had reduced operations leading up to and after the hurricane. From August through September, gross inputs to refineries in the Gulf Coast region fell by 1.1 MMBOPD – a 13% decrease. Over the same period, regional crude oil inventories increased by 6.9 million barrels.

Although many export facilities in the Gulf Coast reduced operations or shut down because of hurricane Harvey, export facilities returned to operation following the hurricane faster than refineries, the EIA said. Exports of crude oil in August were the second lowest for 2017 at 772,000 BOPD, but in September exports reached a then-record high of 1.5 MMBOPD, most of which went to Asian markets. Inputs to refineries in the Gulf Coast region began reaching pre-Harvey levels in October.

Record draw from Gulf Coast inventory after Harvey

With Gulf Coast refinery runs back to pre-Harvey levels and exports of crude oil reaching another record high in October of 1.7 MMBOPD, Gulf Coast crude oil inventories registered a draw of 19.9 million barrels.

According to data in EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report, from late October through the end of 2017, exports of crude oil and inputs to Gulf Coast refineries remained relatively high, resulting in a sustained decrease in Gulf Coast crude oil inventories.


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