The U.S. returned to being a net energy exporter in August despite disruptions from Hurricane Laura and ongoing uncertainty over the pandemic, according to data released in the American Petroleum Institute’s August 2020 Monthly Statistical Report and Q3 2020 Industry Outlook. Higher demand and lower supply translated into lower crude oil inventories and further illustrated the gradual rebalancing of the market.

“Although the market remains fragile, we saw substantive progress in August towards the rebalancing and normalizing of key indicators,” API Chief Economist Dean Forman said. “The U.S. return to net exporter status despite disruptions from Hurricane Laura is significant in that it shows a combination of resilience in international demand coupled with domestic refiners increasingly turning to domestic sweet crude despite and in fact due to the pandemic-driven recession.”

Highlights from the August 2020 Monthly Statistical Report include:

  • U.S. petroleum demand edged up to 18.3 mb/d in August following further recovery in demand for motor transport fuels. Increased trucking activity associated with a rebound in business and industrial activity as well as ongoing e-commerce supported a 4.2% monthly uptick in diesel demand, while gasoline demand rose by 1.5% m/m. Jet fuel demand continued to be the main source of weakness with deliveries down more than 46% y/y due to depressed demand for air travel.
  • U.S. crude oil and natural gas liquids production both edged down in August as drilling activity fell to its lowest level since November 2001. However, drilling productivity rose to record highs in most producing basins.
  • Total U.S. petroleum inventories (excluding SPR) increased 0.2% in August to 1.46 billion barrels. However, crude oil stocks fell 3.2% to 502.8 mb/d, now 6.6% below the record in March 2017.
  • The U.S. returned to being a net energy exporter in August as imports of crude oil and refined products decreased 5.3% to 7.5 mb/d and exports rose 2.0% to 7.8 mb/d. Within the exports, 4.8 mb/d was refined products, which increased by 1.9% m/m, and the remaining 3.0 mb/d was crude oil that rose by 0.1 mb/d m/m to a record for the month of August.

Click here to read the full August 2020 Monthly Statistical Report and here for the Q3 2020 Industry Outlook.