Despite volatility in global oil markets, US crude oil exports reached a record high in 2020, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). As of 9 July 2021, US crude oil exports have averaged 3.00 million barrels per day (b/d). The most recent four-week rolling average of US crude oil exports reached 3.51 million b/d, according to EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report.
In 2013, the US government lifted export restrictions on minimally processed ultra-light oil. In the summer of 2015, the United States and Mexico entered into an oil exchange agreement, and the restrictions on oil exports were fully lifted in December 2015. US crude oil exports have increased significantly since 2015 and have averaged around 3.00 million b/d every year since 2019.
The four-week rolling average of US crude oil export volumes has not fallen below 2.00 million b/d during the past three years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused significant crude oil price drops, reduced demand, and reduced production in US and global oil markets.
High oil prices have contributed to steady crude oil exports recently. During the week of 9 July 2021, the international crude oil benchmark (Brent) spot price averaged $76.13 per barrel, and the domestic crude oil benchmark (West Texas Intermediate, or WTI) spot price averaged $73.35/b. Brent and WTI prices both remained above $70/b between 8 June and 16 July 2021.
Weekly export data show a slight rise in crude oil exports since the end of June 2021.
Even with a narrow price difference between the WTI crude oil price and the Brent price, US crude oil exports remain very high. As of 16 July, the WTI crude oil price averaged $2.82/b lower than the Brent crude oil price so far in 2021. During the week ending 9 July 2021, the WTI price averaged $2.78/b lower than the Brent price. US crude oil exports for that same week were 3.51 million b/d, well above the year-to-date 2021 average volume for US crude oil exports. Between 2011 and 2014, the WTI crude price averaged $10/b lower than the Brent crude price.