According to the US Energy Information Administration, distillate fuel was the most exported US petroleum product in 2017 and averaged 1.4 million b/d of gross exports.  Bloomberg photo by Eddie Seal.

Distillate fuel exports were shipped to 79 different destinations in 2017

By Mason Hamilton and Kelsey Hallahan

This article was published by the US Energy Information Administration on June 12, 2018.


Distillate fuel continued to be the most exported US petroleum product in 2017, averaging 1.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of gross exports.US distillate exports went to 79 different destinations in 2017, particularly to markets in Central America, South America, and Europe.

The proximity of US Gulf Coast refineries to Mexico and to Central and South America combined with high demand in these regions led to higher US distillate exports to these locations.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly

In 2017, the United States exported 27 per cent of total domestic distillate production, continuing years of increasing exports and relatively flat US consumption growth. Because domestic distillate demand is highest in the winter months, US distillate exports tend to be highest in the summer months.

In February 2017, however, warmer-than-normal US temperatures coupled with colder-than-normal European temperatures led to above average winter exports of distillate, especially to markets in Europe.

Distillate exports from the United States set consecutive record highs in May, June, and July 2017, reaching 1.7 million b/d in July. In August, exports of distillate fell to 1.4 million b/d, partly because of the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which temporarily disrupted shipments of distillate and other fuels from the US Gulf Coast.

U.S. distillate trade, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly

Unlike motor gasoline, which is used almost exclusively for transportation, distillate fuel has a variety of uses, including as a heating fuel in homes and businesses, as a fuel for certain industrial processes, and as a transportation fuel for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The US Gulf Coast (Petroleum Administration for Defense District 3) is the largest petroleum refining region in the country, accounting for approximately half of the total U.S. refining capacity in 2017.

Distillate production on the US Gulf Coast exceeds regional demand, making the region a net supplier to other US regions and foreign markets. In 2015, refineries in the region produced 2.8 million b/d of distillate, while regional demand was about 800,000 b/d. The Gulf Coast accounted for 87 per cent of US distillate exports in 2017.