US Gasoline Exports Surge, as Price Hits $3 for Memorial Day, $3.69 in California
US Gasoline Exports Surge, as Price Hits $3 for Memorial Day, $3.69 in California by Wolf Richter – Wolf Street
The US is a net exporter of gasoline, regardless of how much you pay at the pump.
The average price of gasoline in the US, across all grades and all formulations, rose to $3.00 a gallon, the EIA reported today just for Memorial Day weekend, when people are planning to burn up a lot of it. This is the highest weekly price the EIA has reported since November 2014. But it’s still a lot lower than just before Memorial Day 2014, when gas cost on average $3.74 a gallon.
In California, the average price of gasoline is now at $3.62, EIA data shows. Where we got gas in San Francisco, a gallon of regular already cost $3.75.
This is curious because I can watch fully loaded tankers sail through the Golden Gate into the Pacific. They’re loading gasoline at the refineries in the Bay-Area city of Richmond, and they’re heading mostly to Mexico and other Latin American destinations.
And gasoline exports from the US Gulf Coast have been surging for years. In 2017, gasoline exports rose to 821,000 barrels per day (b/d), equal to about 9% of US gasoline consumption, the EIA reported yesterday. And nearly half of these exports went to Mexico:
This surge in gasoline exports came despite record gasoline consumption in the US in 2017, which matched the record high set in 2016 of 9.3 million b/d.
How is that possible? The EIA: “Record-high refinery runs and historically high gasoline production supplied both record-high domestic consumption and increasing gasoline exports.”
In the past, gasoline imports by far exceeded tiny amounts of exports. But already in 2012, there were several months when exports exceeded imports for the first time. As exports continued to rise and imports continued to fall, the amount of net imports (imports minus exports) shrank further. In 2016, the US became a net exporter of gasoline for the first time, exporting more gasoline than it imported. This trend accelerated in 2017. The black line represents net imports: