The United States led exports of petroleum oils -except crude oil- on a global scale in 2022, supported by its extensive refining capacity, according to data from the Department of Commerce (USDOC).
The products they comprise are basic lubricating oils, lubricating oils, lubricating greases, gasoline, gas oil and fuel oil (heating oil).
U.S. exports of this group of fuels went from $87.761 billion to $57.812 billion from 2019 to 2020, and then from $85.142 billion to $135.405 billion from 2021 to 2022.
In the United States, petroleum refineries transform crude oil into finished petroleum products, such as motor gasoline and diesel fuel, as well as intermediate goods used as inputs to manufacture petrochemicals and plastics.
The relative quantities of each product produced by petroleum refineries can be measured through the average U.S. refinery throughput, which shows the volume of finished product output as a percentage of input volume.
According to the International Trade Commission (USITC), the United States has the largest refining sector in the world, supplying 17.6% of the world’s total petroleum refining capacity.
More than 30 U.S. refineries, owned by 15 different parent companies and accounting for just over half of total U.S. refining capacity, were using production authority in free trade zones by the end of 2021.
Most of these refineries are located along the Gulf Coast, primarily in Texas and Louisiana.
Petroleum oil exports
Some U.S. refineries produce in free trade zones along the West Coast (including several in California); in the Midwest (including several in Ohio); on the East Coast; and in Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
About two-thirds of the refineries that produce in U.S. FTZs also operate U.S. refineries that do not use FTZs.
Companies generally attribute this decision to location-related factors that dictate differences in the use of foreign feedstocks and export competitiveness.
The U.S. refining sector employed about 105,000 workers in 2021, more than half of whom worked in refineries that use free trade zones.