US May Export More Oil Than 4 OPEC Producers

US May Export More Oil   Than 4 OPEC ProducersUS May Export More Oil   Than 4 OPEC Producers

US crude exports are poised to surpass production in four OPEC nations in 2017 and may grow even more if President Donald Trump honors pledges to ease drilling restrictions and maximize output.

The world’s largest oil-consuming country could sell as much as 800,000 barrels per day of crude overseas this year, according to four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. 

That is more than OPEC producers Libya, Qatar, Ecuador and Gabon each pumped in December. The US exported 527,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2016, the US Energy Information Administration data show.

Chalk it all up to a rebound in shale oil and gas, which Trump is counting on to create jobs and rebuild roads, schools and bridges. US output will rebound to more than 9 million barrels a day in 2017 after sliding 5.6% to 8.87 million bpd in 2016, the EIA estimates. 

Since restrictions on US crude exports were lifted in late 2015, domestic producers are free to seek buyers in Europe, Asia and Latin America, which are on the lookout for alternate suppliers after OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to trim 2017 output.

“US production will be bigger than most people are expecting,” Vikas Dwivedi, senior analyst at Macquarie Capital Inc., said. 

The US imported 7.88 million bpd of crude in the first 11 months of 2016, including about 3 million bpd from OPEC. And in the first week of January, the country sent a record amount overseas, according to the EIA.

That is because US refiners were designed to process relatively cheap high-sulfur and high-density crudes produced in Canada and parts of the Middle East and Latin America. 

They are not set up to handle the low-sulfur, less dense crude being produced in Texas’ Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions, where most of the US output growth has occurred.

“If the US system can’t take the crude it produces, it will have to export it,” Dwivedi said.

Strict adherence to the output cuts OPEC and non-OPEC nations agreed to in November will also provide US producers with a foothold into international markets. 

OPEC members could reduce supplies by 900,000 bpd in January, the first month of implementation of the accord designed to eliminate a global supply glut, according to estimates from tanker-tracker Petro-Logistics SA.

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