The number of destinations of U.S. crude oil exports surpassed imports in the first seven months of this year, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The largest number of sources that the U.S. imported crude oil from, including countries, territories, autonomous regions and other administrative regions, fell to as much as 27 in any given month over the January-July period of 2019, the EIA said.
However, the EIA said during the first seven months of 2019, the U.S. exported crude oil to as many as 31 destinations per month.
"As the number of sources fell, the number of destinations for U.S. crude oil exports rose," the statement read.
The U.S.' crude oil exports significantly increased since late 2015 when former President Barack Obama lifted the self-imposed ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil that had been implemented in the country since the 1970s.
Between January 2016, the first full month when U.S. crude oil exports were sent overseas, and July 2019, crude oil production in the U.S. increased by 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd), while export volumes increased by 2.2 million bpd, according to the EIA.
"Before the restrictions were lifted, U.S. crude oil exports almost exclusively went to Canada," the statement said.
The U.S., in addition, has also been importing crude oil from fewer sources due to the increase in its domestic crude oil production.
"Most of this increase has been relatively light-sweet crude oil, but most U.S. refineries are configured to process medium- to heavy-sour crude oil," the statement said.
"U.S. refineries have accommodated this increase in production by displacing imports of light and medium crude oils from countries other than Canada and by increasing refinery utilization rates," it added.
-Light-sweet oil demand rises
Another reason for the increase in U.S. crude oil exports is the growing demand for its light-sweet crude oil from abroad.
"More stringent national and international regulations limiting the sulfur content of transportation fuels are also affecting demand for light-sweet crude oil," the statement said.
"Many of the less complex refineries outside of the U.S. cannot process and remove sulfur from heavy-sour crude oils and are better suited to process light-sweet crude oil into transportation fuels with lower sulfur content," it explained.
By Ovunc Kutlu