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Tankers: No Support from the US Oil Export Trade

The US crude oil export trade has been rather disappointing in 2021, following up on a similar trend from 2020. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa noted that “2020 was overall a very negative year for crude oil trade. Total loadings in the 12 months of 2020 were down -6.2% y-o-y to 2032 mln tonnes, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. 2021 so far is faring not much better. In the first 10 months of 2021, global seaborne crude oil trade declined by -4.5% y-o-y to 1626.4 mln tonnes. What’s worse is that so far there is little sign of things turning a corner. Even in 3Q 2021, global crude loading were at 489.1 mln tonnes, which was modestly up (+1.3% y-o-y) on the (very) depressed levels of 3Q 2020, but still down -7.4% compared to (preCovid) third quarter of 2019”.

According to the shipbroker, “the Unites States significantly boosted their crude oil production and exports since the shale “revolution”. Exports from the USA sharply increased in recent years, to the point that it is now the fourth largest exporter in the world, after Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Russia. In 2020, USA ports accounted for 6.6% of global crude oil loadings (excluding Jones Act cabotage). For clarity, please note that all the below numbers only cover international shipments from the USA, and exclude domestic cabotage that is covered under the Jones Act. About 55 percent of international crude exports from the USA are loaded in Corpus Christi, about 15 percent from Galveston, about 9 percent from Houston, about 5 percent from LOOP, about 4 percent from Bayport, about 3 percent from Beaumont”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

Banchero Costa noted that “given persisting infrastructure limitations, only about 36 percent of crude oil volumes loaded at USA ports are loaded on VLCCs. Most VLCC cargoes are loaded in Corpus Christi, Galveston and LOOP. About 21 percent of volumes are loaded on Suezmaxes, and as much as 40 percent is loaded on Aframaxes. The USA is one of the few exporters which managed to increase shipment volumes in 2020, but things turned sour in 2021. In the 12 months of 2020, the USA managed to ship 137.8 mln tonnes of crude oil, up by +7.1% year-on-year. For comparison, Saudi Arabia’s exports declined by -3.2% y-o-y in 2020, those from Russia declined by -13.1% last year, from West Africa they were down by -9.2% y-o-y. The current year however has been relatively disappointing. In the first 10 months of 2021, seaborne crude oil exports from the USA were 107.2 mln tonnes, down by -7.6% y-o-y from the 116.0 mln tonnes in the same period of 2020. Nevertheless, they were still higher than the 104.5 mln tonnes in the first 10 months of 2019”.


“In the first quarter of 2021, the USA exported 30.9 mln tonnes, which represented a decline of -16.7% y-o-y from the 37.1 mln tonnes of 1Q 2020, but was still up on the 28.9 mln tonnes of 1Q 2019. The second quarter of 2021 saw a rebound to 34.8 mln tonnes, which was up +7.3% y-o-y from 2Q 2020. The third quarter of 2021 was down again with 31.2 mln tonnes shipped from the USA, which was down -11.6% y-o-y from 3Q 2020, but still up from 30.7 mln tonnes in 3Q 2019. In terms of destinations for the shipments, it is quite diversified, with about 45% to Asia, 37% to Europe, and the rest to the Americas. Direction Europe, about 9.2 mln tonnes (8.6 percent of the total) were shipped from the to the UK in the first 10 months of 2021, whilst about 9.0 mln tonnes (8.4 percent of the total) went to the Netherlands, 4.6 mln tonnes to Italy, 3.8 mln tonnes to France, 3.2 mln tonnes to Spain, 3.1 mln tonnes to Germany. Overall exports from the USA to the European Union declined by -6.2% y-oy in the first 10 months of 2021, whilst to the United Kingdom declined by -4.3% y-o-y. Direction Asia, about 15.0 mln tonnes were shipped from the USA to India in the first 10 months of 2021 (14 percent of the USA’s total), 13.7 mln tonnes were shipped to South Korea, 7.1 mln tonnes to Mainland China, and 6.1% to South East Asia. Exports from the USA to India increased by +54.8% y-o-y in the first 10 months of 2021, to South Korea by +26.4% y-o-y, but to Mainland China declined by -58.3% y-o-y”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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