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EIA says US gasoline exports set October record

Houston — US exports of gasoline in the week ended October 5 averaged 1.029 million b/d, which set a new record high for that month, Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday.

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The data shows that the previous high for October exports occurred in the week ended October 20, 2017, when they averaged 906,000 b/d.

Last week was just the seventh time US exports averaged above 1 million b/d for weekly data going as far back as 2010.

Among other factors, exports appear to be supported by brimming US gasoline inventories. Last week they were reported at 236.172 million barrels, which is more than 14 million barrels above their level from the year-ago week.

US gasoline exports have also been supported this year by suboptimal gasoline production in Latin America, most notably in Mexico and Venezuela.

Data from SENER, Mexico's Energy Secretariat, shows that gasoline production in that country has been below historic norms all year. In Mexico, this output drop is intentional. Pemex has said it wishes to shore up margins at its midstream refining unit, which it can accomplish by only processing crude when it is economically attractive. This allowed Pemex's refining division to turn a profit in 2017 for the first time in years, even as it processed less crude oil.

In Venezuela, many refineries have been running below historic norms this year, which, in contrast to Mexico, has been largely unplanned. Venezuela's entire oil sector has been rocked in 2018 by a combination of political instability, economic turmoil, and hyperinflation.

For example, PDVSA's 955,000 b/d Paraguana Refining Center in Venezuela is now operating at just 33% of total capacity, according to a technical report from the company released earlier this week.

--Seth Clare, seth.clare@spglobal.com

--Edited by Derek Sands, derek.sands@spglobal.com