Oil exports exceed imports along Texas’ Gulf Coast for the first time

In a landmark shift in global energy trading patterns the Houston Chronicle is reporting that in April oil exports in the Houston-Galveston port district exceeded imports by 15,000 barrels a day, and in May that difference grew to 470,000 barrels a day. The data comes from the Department of Energy. The Houston-Galveston port district includes the ports of Houston, Texas City, Galveston, Freeport, Port Lavaca, and Corpus Christi.

In May US crude exports hit a record 2m barrels a day, doubling from the same period in 2017, with the Houston-Galveston port area accounting for 70% of this figure.

The surge in exports has leapt ahead of available port infrastructure. New York-based tanker broker Poten & Partners last week detailed the sudden raft of landmark VLCC terminals potentially being built around the US Gulf. Poten has tallied up to five VLCC terminals that could be built in the coming years stretching from Brownville in the southwest corner of Texas to LOOP in Louisiana.

“There is a risk that the new export capacity will outpace production growth, but, given their pipeline connections and superior economics, it is likely that these new offshore terminals will be fully utilized. This will further increase the use of VLCCs in US exports, but may come at the expense of suezmaxes and in particular aframaxes, as it will reduce the demand for reverse lightering,” Poten stated.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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