U.S. crude oil exports for the month of April have surpassed forecasts, hitting a record 4.5 million barrels per day in March thanks to rising fuel demand in China. U.S. crude exports grew 22% last year from 2021 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led the U.S., the EU, and Canada to ban imports of Russian oil and dramatically altered global flows.
China is the world’s second largest oil consumer, and has recorded an economic resurgence ever since it rolled back its strict zero-covid policies. April exports to China surged to ~850,000 barrels per day, the highest level since May 2020.
Other experts have pegged U.S. crude exports even higher. According to Y-Charts, U.S. Crude Oil Exports are currently at 4.819M barrels per day, up from 4.571M last week and up from 4.27M one year ago. This is a change of 5.43% from last week and 12.86% from one year ago.
According to Rohit Rathod, a market analyst at Vortexa, overall crude exports in the month of April are expected to only be a few hundred thousand barrels per day less than March, and will remain above 4 million.
Another reason for the surging exports: U.S. crude is cheap.
U.S. crude tends to be quite a bit cheaper than Brent. The average discount in February was $6.47 and nearly $6 less in the first half of March. Foreign buyers tend to increase their purchases of U.S. crude whenever the discount to Brent exceeds $6 per barrel.
Unfortunately, exports are not expected to remain that high in the coming months. Energy Aspects has forecast that May U.S. exports will fall to about 3.78 million bpd as falling Middle Eastern crude prices will lower demand for U.S. grades.