Velda Addison, Hart Energy

U.S. crude oil is flowing to more destinations thanks to the December 2015 lifting of the crude oil export ban.

Since the restrictions were removed, U.S. crude oil exports have averaged 501,000 barrels per day (Mbbl/d) through May, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That is 9% higher than all of 2015, despite the “relatively small price spreads between international crude oils and domestic crude oil” and a global abundance of oil.

Most of the oil has gone to longtime U.S. crude oil recipient Canada, which averaged 422 Mbbl/d from the U.S. in 2015. EIA data shows the average for January to May 2016 is about 276 Mbbl/d. The second top destination for U.S. crude oil exports is a small island nation called Curacao, home to about 140,000, according to World Atlas figures.

Not to be confused with orange peel-flavored liquor, the Caribbean island is known for its crystal clear waters, colorful houses, beautiful coral reefs and an upcoming jazz festival.

The EIA called the small island located east of Aruba and north of Venezuela the “largest and most consistent U.S. crude oil destination” for January through May 2016. An average of 54 Mbbl/d of U.S. crude was exported to Curacao during that time, traveling to the PDVSA-owned Isla refinery and to storage facilities on the island.

“Trade press reports indicate that U.S. crude oil exports to Curacao are likely being used as diluent, where a light [less dense] U.S. crude oil is blended with a heavy Venezuelan crude oil, for either processing at the Isla refinery or for reexport to PDVSA customers,” the EIA said.

Others on the receiving end of bountiful oil resources from the U.S. from January to May 2016 include:

  • The Netherlands, 39 Mbbl/d;
  • Japan, 17 Mbbl/d;
  • Italy, 15 Mbbl/d and
  • France and the U.K., each receiving 11 Mbbl/d, according to the EIA.

The Bahama Islands, China, Panama, Israel, Nicaragua, Colombia, Switzerland and Peru also received U.S. crude oil this year.

However, most of the countries listed on the EIA’s “exports by destination” page indicated no crude oil imports from the U.S. for the first five months of 2016. So, additional opportunities exist for U.S. crude oil exports, if there is a need—a big caveat that apparently hasn’t stopped U.S. crude oil export levels from rising despite the oil and gas market being in recovery mode.

The 40-year-old U.S. oil export ban was lifted Dec. 18 with the signature of President Barack Obama, following extensive lobbying by the oil and gas industry. The celebrated move came as the industry coped with an oversupply-driven downturn that tanked commodity prices and profits—the effects of which are still being felt.

RELATED LINK: More’s The Pity: Exports Will Take A Back Seat To Overproduction

U.S., crude, oil, exports, EIA

Velda Addison can be reached at