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US crude oil exports have surpassed 1m barrels per day for the second week in a row, a remarkable rise in volumes just a year after the country lifted restrictions on foreign sales of the commodity.

The country exported 1.2m barrels of crude in the week ended February 17, hitting a new record, the Energy Information Administration estimated on Thursday.

The US Congress ended curbs on crude oil exports in late 2015. Sales previously had been largely confined to Canadian refineries. Volumes got a slow start but have since accelerated, helped by discounts for certain grades of US oil and shifting transport economics on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Clipper Data, an information service, said that Occidental Petroleum’s Ingleside terminal in Texas has emerged as the top source of exports this year after first loading exports in late November. The terminal in Freeport, Texas has also hosted more exports.

The export data came alongside a rise in US crude stocks for a seventh straight week. Inventories of US crude rose by 564,000 barrels in the week ended February 17, according to the EIA. That compared with economists’ expectations for a build of 3.4m barrels and came as oil imports averaged 7.3m barrels per day last week, down by 1.2m barrels per day from the previous week.

Meanwhile, inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, a key delivery hub, fell by 1.5m barrels, compared with expectations of a 25,000 barrel draw.

At 518.7m barrels, US oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

The report also showed that stocks of gasoline, one of the products that crude is refined in to, decreased by 2.6m barrels, against expectations for a draw of 1.2m barrels.

Oil prices were up ahead of the release, after a report from the American Petroleum Institute showed a surprised draw in US oil stocks.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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