The United States reversed a 15-year-long trend as a net exporter of crude oil in mid 2020, as a result of covid-19 crisis and restrictions, turning itself into a net importer in April and June, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) informed.
After being a net exporter for seven consecutive months, starting in October 2019, to April 2020, the U.S. imported more crude oil than it exported; with an average crude imports of 939,000 barrels per day in May, according to EIA’s data.
In June, that average scored 675,000 barrels per day; on an annual basis the U.S. net crude oil imports had fallen from 12,5 million barrels day in 2005, to 0,7 million barrels day in 2019.
The brief return to a net importer scheme was a result of declines in crude production and refinery runs; both resulted in lower gross crude oil exports, as demand globally was crashed due to the pandemic.
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Crude oil refining also down in mid-2020
In April, precisely, oil consumption in the U.S. declined to its lowest since the 90’s. EIA’s estimations totaled an average of 13,8 million barrels day in the first weeks of that month; which is the lowest level in EIA’s series since decades.
As demand was crashing, and consumption going down as a result of the pandemic, U.S. refineries decreased oil processing in nearly 21% than the previous five-year average of the same period.
The overall decrease in global petroleum consumption led to a sharp decrease of U.S. exports; which fell for three consecutive months “from a record high of 6.3 million b/d in February to 3.9 million b/d in May,” EIA explains.
“This change in petroleum product exports was the main factor in the overall shift in U.S. petroleum trade from net exports to net imports in May and June. Since then, gross petroleum product exports increased to 5.1 million b/d in September,” the Agency concludes.