NewsUS oil exports surge amid sanctions on Russian and Venezuelan crude

US oil exports surge amid sanctions on Russian and Venezuelan crude

American oil producers benefit from sanctions.
American oil producers benefit from sanctions.
Images source: © Getty Images | Alex Wong

8:31 PM EDT, March 31, 2024, updated: 8:41 AM EDT, April 1, 2024

The primary beneficiaries of sanctions against Russian and Venezuelan oil have been American suppliers, now capturing markets previously dominated by OPEC+ countries. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, US oil exports have set five new monthly records.

According to Bloomberg, American crude oil is replacing Russian and Venezuelan crude in crucial export markets, thanks to sanctions on these major competitors. Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022 and the subsequent embargo on Russian oil by the West, US crude shipments overseas have broken new monthly records five times. Furthermore, as sanctions on Venezuela are set to be extended in April, traders of American oil are stepping in to fill the gap left in India, one of the largest importers of oil currently facing restrictions.

American crude oil benefits from sanctions

American crude oil, already a favorite in global markets, found increased demand following the disruption in global crude flows due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Consequently, shipments to Europe and Asia surged, establishing the USA as one of the world's leading oil exporters, Bloomberg reports.

A spike in US oil production and production cuts by OPEC and its allies have further solidified American producers' foothold in international markets. This is evident in oil prices, with the American benchmark WTI in Houston nearing the highest levels since October.

India shifts from Russian to American oil

India, ranking third globally in oil imports and second in purchasing Russian oil after China, is another market witnessing a growth in American oil supplies. Kpler, a firm tracking tanker movements, indicates that American oil imports into India are anticipated to hit a near-yearly high in March.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg data reveals that Russian oil imports into India have dropped by about 800,000 barrels per day compared to last year's peak. After Indian refineries ceased accepting cargoes from tankers owned by the recently US-sanctioned Russian shipping company Sovcomflot, deliveries from Russia may decrease even further.

USA becomes a key supplier to Asia and Europe

Before the latest sanctions, the USA was already a significant Asian oil supplier. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that imports of American oil to this region hit a record last year.

In Europe, which has broadly moved away from Russian oil since the war commenced, imports from the USA are projected to reach a record 2.2 million barrels per day in March, according to Bloomberg. The elevated demand for American oil in Europe is attributed not only to the sanctions - for instance, imports to the Netherlands surged after WTI crude was included in the Dated Brent benchmark last year. Yet, the embargo on Russian crude has undoubtedly intensified the search for alternative suppliers. American oil imports to France increased by almost 40 percent between 2021 and 2023 and to Spain by an astonishing 134 percent. The United States is poised for even more significant growth.

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