for U.S. crude imports
OPEC’s strategy centers around restricting supply to the Atlantic basin since inventory data in the U.S. is the most timely and visible in the world. From February to early April, U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia have plummeted by about 462,000 b/d.
What gets overlooked sometimes in the discussion on U.S. crude exports is that the country is still importing more than 8 million barrels per day.
Despite Iraq's commitment to cutting total crude production, its exports are set to rise, and have already registered a sharp uptick to the United States.
Both Trump and Clinton make misstatements on energy, but Clinton points to role Middle East producers play in managing oil prices.
Rhetoric aside, OPEC exports to the U.S. are up 20 percent year over year. U.S. production has fallen by more than 1 million barrels per day over the past 18 months, creating a supply gap that has been filled with OPEC oil.
Like presidents before him dating back to Richard Nixon, Barack Obama pledged to reduce dependence on crude oil imports and sever the country’s reliance on OPEC oil. But unlike others, Obama saw overall energy security improve markedly during his presidency.
Crude export deals so far have been “opportunistic” and isolated in nature and have gone to a wide variety of buyers. Cargoes will continue to trickle out, but a gusher won’t happen unless domestic production rebounds significantly.
The first crude stock declines will have a significant psychological impact on the market, but it will be tricky to determine if the draw is a standard seasonal pull, or if the market is beginning to finally rebalance.
OPEC member Nigeria has taken a major step in improving its country’s energy sector by restructuring its state-run oil company. The move is significant since the NNPC has a longstanding history of corruption and the country is dealing with a large budget gap.
U.S. crude oil exports declined noticeably during the second part of last year—an ironic development given the intense lobbying at the same time for the liberalizing of the country’s export laws and the ultimate repeal of the ban in December.