Each week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) issues its weekly inventories report. In the report it gives us information on the supply of crude oil, gasoline and distillates. It also provides data on production and capacity utilization. One of the most overlooked parts of the report is data on U.S. exports. This is probably because the U.S. is primarily known as an importing country.
This week, export data jumped to the forefront, when a surprise rise helped trigger a volatile response in the crude oil market.
According to the EIA, U.S. crude oil supply fell sharply the preceding week as crude exports rose to a record high of nearly 2 million barrels per day (bpd).
Crude inventories fell 6 million barrels in the week-ending September 29, compared to a forecast of a 756,000 barrel draw. This was the second straight draw as Gulf Coast refineries restart after weeks of shutdown due to Hurricane Harvey.
The surprise news was that crude exports jumped to 1.98 bpd, surpassing the 1.5 million bpd set the previous week.
Traders said the jump in U.S. exports points to growing demand and rising profile of the United States as a major global supplier of crude and oil-related products.
Traders also said the steep increase the past two weeks has in part been driven by a recent widening between prices for U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude and Brent futures.
The international-benchmark North Sea Brent last week hit its highest…