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Top US Petroleum Product Export in 2020

According to the US Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Supply, the export of propane in the US increased by 13% and surpassed distillate fuel oil as the country’s top Petroleum Product export. The export of distillate fuel oil fell to its lowest level since 2016.

This increase in the export of propane was driven by strong petrochemical and heating demand in Asia during a year of more production and less consumption. The US experienced warmer-than-normal heating seasons in both the first and final months of the year, resulting in lower domestic propane consumption than in the previous two years.Due to the pandemic, the production of natural gas and crude oil production fell in the U.S. The propane production at natural gas processing plants increased 5.6% from 2019, which more than outweighed the decline in refinery production of propane. In 2020, 76% of U.S. propane was produced at natural gas processing plants; the remaining 24% was produced at petroleum refineries.

The production of Propane outside the U.S. decreased because major exporters such as Saudi Arabia and Russia reduced their propane production as a result of crude oil curtailments; most propane production in these countries is associated with crude oil. U.S. export capacity grew by an average of 330,000 barrels per day during the second half of 2020.

The distillate fuel oil exports are the largest share of U.S. Petroleum Product exports which decreased in 2020. The exports of 733,000 BPD in May 2020 were the lowest for any month since June 2011, mostly because of less global demand.

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