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US crude exports remain below 2.5 million b/d, 4-week moving-average lowest since late May

Highlights

US crude exports average 2.489 million b/d last week: EIA

Flows to Europe estimated at 678,000 b/d: Kpler

Tight exports economics could hamper flows into August

US crude exports over the week ended on July 23 remained relatively flat on the week below 2.5 million b/d, while lower weekly export figures over the last two weeks have brought the four-week moving-average to under 3 million b/d, the first time since late May, according to a July 28 report from the US Energy Information Administration.

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US exports averaged just 2.489 million b/d over the week ended on July 23, an uptick of just 26,000 b/d from the prior week, EIA data showed. The four-week moving average, meanwhile, fell by 307,000 b/d to 2.9 million b/d, the lowest four-week moving-average since the period ended on May 28, when the moving-average was reported by the EIA at just 2.77 million b/d.

By comparison, independent data intelligence company, Kpler, reported US crude exports over the week ended on July 23 at 2.382 million b/d on their July 26 report, just slightly lower than the EIA's reported figure. Of the 2.382 million b/d of exports, around 848,000 b/d were exported to Asian destinations, the lowest since July 2, while just 678,000 b/d were exported to Europe, the lowest figure since April 16, Kpler data showed.

Sources have recently noted the poor export economics for US crudes amid a particularly tight Brent/WTI spread. The Brent/WTI swaps spread, one indicator used to track the overall competitiveness of US crude on the international market, has narrowed significantly since early June. As the spread narrows, WTI-based crudes are generally seen as less competitive relative to their Brent-based counterparts. Since June 11, the Brent/WTI swaps spread has averaged just $1.60/b. By comparison, the year-to-date average of the spread is $2.62/b.

While the impacts of these tougher economics were expected to be felt more in the August loading cycle, one source had noted previously that the export arb was open only partially in July and that "it will be interesting to see how loadings stack up in July and August." These falling export figures could be a sign of the difficult economics faced by US crude exporters, while flows in the coming weeks will be further indicative of those economics. It is important to note, however, that due to sunk costs such as logistical commitments, sources have said a certain amount of US export flows happen regardless of economics.