Declining global oil and fuel demand in the pandemic pushed U.S. crude oil exports down from their record-high of 3.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in February in each month through June, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.  

U.S. exports of crude oil fell from 3.708 million bpd in February to 2.753 million bpd in June, according to EIA data.

Despite the export decline during the global lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus, U.S. crude oil exports in the first half of 2020 were still higher than they were in the first half of 2019.  

U.S. crude oil imports in the first half of 2020 were also down compared to year-ago levels, despite the fact that imports surged in May and June after Saudi Arabia shipped record levels of crude to the market in April.

In the first half of 2020, global oil demand slumped to average to 90.0 million bpd, down from 100.7 million barrels bpd in the first half of 2019, the EIA has estimated. Significantly lower demand for crude oil and petroleum products has resulted in declining U.S. crude oil exports since February, EIA data showed.

Despite the monthly declines since the pandemic started, the U.S. increased its crude oil exports to China year over year in the first half of 2020. America exported 361,000 bpd of crude oil to China in the first half of 2020, up from 213,000 bpd from the first half of 2019.

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The large increase in crude oil exports to China during the first half of 2020 was driven by exports in May and June of 1.3 million bpd and 700,000 bpd, respectively, and in those two months, China surpassed all other destinations to become the largest destination for U.S. crude oil exports, EIA data showed.

Analysts see the rise in U.S. crude oil exports to China as the result of Beijing’s bargain hunting for super-cheap oil in April.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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