The US exported slightly more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported during first-half 2021 by 120,000 b/d, or less than 1% of combined crude oil and petroleum product exports and imports, the US Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Supply Monthly trade data show.
The US was a net importer of crude oil and petroleum products in the first of half of each year until first-half 2020, when the US became a net exporter by 432,000 b/d of crude oil and petroleum products. This year marks only the second time the US has been a net total petroleum exporter in the first half of the year. The US has been a net exporter of petroleum products alone since 2011.
The US exports more refined petroleum products than it does crude oil. Petroleum product exports averaged 5.5 million b/d in first-half 2021, up from 5.3 million b/d in first-half 2020. Exports of petroleum products include motor gasoline, distillate, and propane exports. Both imports and exports of select petroleum products mainly consumed as transportation fuels—distillate fuel oil, motor gasoline, and jet fuel—altogether decreased in 2020 compared with 2019.
Propane exports increased in response to more demand for propane in Asia and less demand for propane in the US. Propane now surpasses distillate fuel oil as the most prevalent US petroleum product export by volume. In first-half 2021, both imports and exports of petroleum products increased above their levels in the first halves of 2020 and 2019.
The US imports more crude oil than it does petroleum products. The US was a net importer of 2.9 million b/d of crude oil in first-half 2021. Net imports of crude oil have decreased in the first half of every year since 2017, primarily reflecting increasing US exports of crude oil since the end of the US crude oil export ban in 2015.
Gross US crude oil exports in first-half 2021 averaged 3.0 million b/d, down from 3.2 million b/d in the first half of last year. This decrease was the first time exports decreased since the end of the export ban in 2015 and was likely driven by lower crude oil production, which decreased substantially in 2020 because of economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gross US crude oil imports also fell, decreasing to 5.9 million b/d in first-half 2021 from 6.2 million b/d in first-half 2020.