In 2022, the United States set a new record for petroleum product exports, up 7% from 2021, according to our Petroleum Supply Monthly. U.S. petroleum product exports averaged 5.97 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2022 (405,000 b/d more than in 2021) driven by an increase of 18% (193,000 b/d) in distillate fuel oil.
Geopolitical disruptions that occurred in 2022 are likely to continue to affect global trade of crude oil and petroleum products in 2023. In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, the United States and many U.S. allies, particularly in Europe, announced various sanctions against Russia’s petroleum industry. As a result, prices and crack spreads for petroleum products rose in the second quarter of 2022, encouraging refiners globally to increase production. In the EU, petroleum from Russia had accounted for a large share of all energy imports, but the EU banned imports of crude oil from Russia starting in December 2022 and imports of petroleum products starting in February 2023.
The high volume of U.S. petroleum product exports in 2022 also reflected longer-term growth trends. U.S. exports of total petroleum products—which do not include crude oil—more than doubled to 5.97 million b/d in 2022 from 2.31 million b/d in 2010. Propane was the largest commodity export product by volume in 2022. In 2010, the United States exported 109,000 b/d of propane, compared with almost 1.4 million b/d in 2022. Other non-propane hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs), particularly ethane and normal butane, also accounted for the overall increase in U.S. export volumes.
Propane and other HGLs exports are directed primarily to the Asia Pacific region, accounting for more than half of total U.S. propane exports. Japan received the most U.S. propane exports in 2022 at 384,000 b/d.
U.S. distillate fuel oil exports in 2022 averaged 1.26 million b/d, which remained below pre-pandemic volumes. In 2019, exports averaged 1.31 million b/d. Although U.S. distillate exports to Europe noticeably increased, the United States sent most of its distillate fuel oil exports to Latin America.
U.S. exports of motor gasoline also increased in 2022, and unlike distillate exports, exceeded 2019 volumes, coming in at their highest annual average on record. Mexico has historically received the most U.S. gasoline exports, which was still the case last year.