United States remains net exporter of energy in August despite challenges

Published on September 21, 2020 by Dave Kovaleski

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Despite disruptions from Hurricane Laura and uncertainty related to the pandemic, the United States remained a net energy exporter in August, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API).

API’s August 2020 Monthly Statistical Report and Q3 2020 Industry Outlook said imports of crude oil and refined products decreased 5.3 percent to 7.5 mb/d and exports rose 2.0 percent to 7.8 mb/d. Among the exports, 4.8 mb/d was refined products, which increased by 1.9 percent m/m, while the remaining 3.0 mb/d was crude oil, up 0.1 mb/d m/m in August.

“Although the market remains fragile, we saw substantive progress in August towards the rebalancing and normalizing of key indicators,” API Chief Economist Dean Forman said. “The U.S. return to net exporter status despite disruptions from Hurricane Laura is significant in that it shows a combination of resilience in international demand coupled with domestic refiners increasingly turning to domestic sweet crude despite and in fact due to the pandemic-driven recession.”

As people returned to work, U.S. petroleum demand edged up to 18.3 mb/d in August, led by higher demand for motor transport fuels and increased trucking activity. There was a 4.2 percent monthly uptick in diesel demand, while gasoline demand rose by 1.5 percent m/m. The primary source of weakness was jet fuel demand, which was down more than 46 percent year-over-year due to depressed demand for air travel.

U.S. crude oil and natural gas liquids production went down in August as drilling activity fell to its lowest level since November 2001. Total U.S. petroleum inventories increased 0.2 percent in August to 1.46 billion barrels, but crude oil stocks fell 3.2 percent to 502.8 mb/d.