U.S. Crude Exports in November Fall to Lowest Since May 2014

  • November was last full month of U.S. restrictions on exports
  • Exports fell after pipeline to Quebec refinery reversed

U.S. average daily crude exports plummeted 36 percent to about 320,000 barrels a day in November, the last full month in which restrictions on such shipments were in effect, according to Bloomberg calculations from data released today by the Census Bureau.

It was the lowest volume of U.S. crude exports since May 2014, when producers shipped about 309,000 barrels a day abroad. The decline in November may be attributed to new movements on a pipeline that allowed Valero Energy Corp.’s refinery in Quebec to curb its imports from the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Gurpal Dosanjh.

The line "was reversed in November, which allowed the refinery to source crude by pipe, and which cut U.S. exports," he said in an e-mail.

The U.S., now the world’s largest oil and gas producer, last month repealed its 40-year-old trade restrictions on crude exports, established during the energy-supply shortages of the 1970s. Producers including ConocoPhillips and Continental Resources Inc. said the constraints were a relic of a bygone era. Congress and President Barack Obama ended the trade limits in their approval of government-spending legislation.

Repeal means that U.S. crude exports are no longer subject to licensing requirements administered by the Commerce Department. The first post-restriction shipment left a Texas port on Dec. 31, bound for Italy.

It remains to be seen whether U.S. crude exports will increase without the trade ban, since U.S. and international benchmark prices for oil are nearly the same, around $35 a barrel. U.S. crude exports reached a record of about 586,000 barrels a day last April.

About 84 percent of the U.S. crude exported in November went to Canada, which was already exempt from the trade limits, according to the Census Bureau. The remainder, shipped to Italy, Spain and Switzerland, included crude that originated outside of the U.S.

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