FuelIsland2 Photo: Sean Kilcarr/American Trucker

U.S. fuel prices tick up, oil exports keep growing

Per gallon prices for diesel and gasoline increased slightly week-over-week but remain much more elevated in year-over-year comparisons.

The average per-gallon price for diesel and gasoline in the U.S. jumped slightly this week, according to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) with the biggest spike occurring for diesel in New England and for gasoline in the Midwest.

Meanwhile, U.S. oil and motor fuel exports continue to grow, particularly for gasoline, despite higher domestic consumption rates, the agency noted.

EIA said the average price for diesel in the U.S. inched up 2/10ths of a penny to $2.903 per gallon this week, though that is 36.3 cents per gallon higher compared to the same week in 2016.

Diesel prices slipped a penny to $2.948 per gallon in the Rocky Mountain region, dipped 1.3 cents to $3.59 per gallon in California, and dipped 1.8 cents to $3.026 per gallon for the rest of the West Coast, the agency pointed out.

Meanwhile, diesel jumped 1.9 cents to $2.943 per gallon in New England and increased 1.1 cents to $2.708 per gallon in the Gulf Coast region.

EIA noted that the average price for gasoline in the U.S. went up 2.2 cents to $2.472 per gallon – which is 16.3 cents higher per gallon compared to the same week in 2016 – largely due to an 8.5 cent spike to $2.409 per gallon in the Midwest.

That negated gasoline price declines in several other areas of the country, including:

  • New England: down 1.5 cents to $2.51 per gallon.
  • Central Atlantic: down 1.6 cents to $2.555 per gallon.
  • Rocky Mountain: sown 2.6 cents to $2.45 per gallon.
  • West Coast without California: down 3.3 cents to $2.677 per gallon.

EIA also recently reported that U.S. crude oil and petroleum product gross exports more than doubled over the past six years, increasing from 2.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2010 to 5.2 million b/d in 2016. Exports of distillate, gasoline, propane, and crude oil have all increased, but at different paces, the agency said.

Restrictions on exporting domestically produced crude oil were lifted in December 2015, and in 2016, the U.S. exported an average of 520,000 b/d. U.S. crude oil exports reached 1.1 million b/d in February 2017 – the highest monthly level on record, EIA pointed out.

While Canada remains the largest destination for U.S. crude oil exports, Canada’s share of total U.S. crude oil exports has declined, dropping from 92% in 2015 (427,000 b/d) to 58% in 2016 (301,000 b/d).

Other leading destinations for U.S. crude oil exports in 2016 included the Netherlands, Curacao, China, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Beyond the lifting of crude oil export restrictions, other factors such as favorable price differentials, lower shipping costs, and rising domestic production have increased U.S. crude oil exports.

In particular, U.S. exports of total motor gasoline more than doubled since 2010, growing from 335,000 b/d in 2010 to 761,000 b/d in 2016, EIA said. The growth in gasoline exports took place while domestic consumption – as measured by product supplied – also increased.

Mexico is the top destination for U.S. motor gasoline exports, EIA noted, and the volume of gasoline trade is significant to U.S. refineries. Over the past five years, U.S. exports to Mexico accounted for between 44% and 53% of total U.S. gasoline exports.

 

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