U.S. Refineries Are Among the Most Efficient and Sophisticated in the World
American refiners are responding to a changing landscape characterized by increased U.S. energy production and reduced domestic demand for traditional gasoline. Continued strong global demand for petroleum-based fuels and favorable economics are allowing U.S. refiners to fulfill domestic fuels needs, while selling more finished product abroad than ever before.
U.S. refineries are among the most efficient and sophisticated in the world and can produce any petroleum product currently required worldwide — even those designed to meet the most stringent air quality requirements such as ultra-low-sulfur diesel. Their access to relatively inexpensive domestic and Canadian crude oils, together with low-priced natural gas to fuel their facilities, is giving U.S. refiners a competitive edge in the export market. This confluence of events has allowed American refiners to quickly adapt to changing conditions and to capture market share from refineries in Europe, India and China.
According to the EIA, U.S. refiners exported a record 2.8 million barrels per day of products in 2013, almost 40 percent more than in 2010. While domestic demand for traditional gasoline is on the decline, demand for diesel fuel here and abroad is rising. Regions like South and Central America are increasingly turning to the United States as a supplier of diesel fuel that complies with their new air-quality standards.
Low sulfur diesel fuel exports rose again in 2013 to levels well over five times what they were in 2005. The largest increases in volumes for 2013 went to Europe, a region that requires very low sulfur diesel fuel.
U.S. Facilities Aim to Run at Peak Efficiency and Full Employment
U.S. refiners are investing to improve their competitive advantage in light of changing demand and crude oil opportunities. AFPM members are upgrading operations, for example with hydrocracking, to meet rising diesel demand and to achieve greater agility to meet demand for fuels of the future in an environmentally compliant manner. Taking advantage of the growing abundance of North American crude oil, U.S. refiners are adding coking and other crude processing capacity to deal with greater volumes of heavy and light crude oils.
The energy boom and the ability of U.S. refiners to address demand shifts means reduced American reliance on oil from unstable regions abroad, and the opportunity for U.S. facilities to run at peak efficiency and full employment.