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US exports of refined products hit new high on Mexico demand

New York — US exports of refined products climbed 192,000 b/d to a fresh record highof 5.624 million b/d in November, driven largely by exports of gasolineand diesel to Mexico, US Energy Information Administration data showedWednesday.

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US refiners exported 1.4 million b/d of refined products to Mexico inNovember, also a record high. That was up from 1.123 million b/d inOctober, and up from 994,000 b/d in November 2016, the EIA data showed.

The November exports included 655,000 b/d of finished motor gasoline and336,000 b/d of distillate fuel.

Mexico's state-led Pemex has been importing refined products, primarilyfrom the US, as its refineries have been operating well below capacity. Pemex processed 560,000 b/d of crude in December, a total utilizationrate of just 35%, the company said Monday.

S&P Global Platts Analytics had expected Pemex to process around 750,000b/d in December, it said in a report released early January, citing aplanned restart at the 190,000 b/d Madero refinery and an anticipatedrobust recovery at the 330,000 b/d Salina Cruz refinery.

Given the actual December levels, S&P Global Platts Analytics hasdecreased its outlook for Mexican crude processing to 710,000 b/d for thefirst quarter of the year, from a base scenario of 820,000 b/d.

However, Pemex expects to process 900,000 b/d of crude oil in the secondhalf of 2018, as it concludes the second-most expensive refinerymaintenance program in its history.

If Pemex is successful, this would reduce demand for US refined products. -- Jeff Mower,

-- Edited by Lisa Miller,