Canada is a Top Source of Refined Product Imports
Last week's edition of This Week In Petroleum focused on Canada's importance as a supplier of crude oil to the United States. Today, we highlight Canada's role as a key supplier of gasoline and distillate fuel products to the U.S. market, providing about 20 percent of total U.S. refined product imports.
Canada has a number of large, sophisticated refineries that primarily serve the U.S. market (similar to the Hovensa refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands). Over 65 percent of total petroleum product imports from Canada come into the U.S. East Coast, including between 85 and 90 percent of gasoline and distillate fuel imports. Much of the volume comes from two large export-driven refineries located on Canada's eastern seaboard (Irving Oil Saint John and Valero Energy Levis). Overall, petroleum product imports from Canada have increased by almost 50 percent over the last decade, partly due to the Irving Oil's Saint John refinery upgrade and expansion to 300 thousand barrels per day completed in 2000.
The largest single refined product import from Canada is gasoline, with finished gasoline and gasoline blending components equaling about 160 thousand barrels per day in recent years, or 17 percent of the total amount of gasoline imported to the United States in 2009. With European refiners experiencing a rising surplus of gasoline, prompting them to send increased volumes across the Atlantic to the United States, Canada's share of gasoline imports fell from a high of 22 percent in 2002. Nevertheless, it remains the largest single source of gasoline imports.
Figure 1. Gasoline Imports
Total distillate imports from Canada increased by over 40 thousand barrels per day (an increase of 55 percent) between 1999 and 2009. During this period, the share of total distillate imports into the United States coming from Canada rose from 30 percent to over 50 percent, due, in part, to an increase in ultra low sulfur distillate imports that began in 2006, largely from the Canadian Atlantic refineries.
Figure 2. Distillate Imports
As the U.S. economy recovers from its recent downturn and Canadian refiners and oil producers continue to benefit from their proximity to U.S. markets, the opportunity for trade with Canada in both refined product and crude oil markets is likely to grow.
Retail Gasoline and Diesel Prices Higher Versus Last Week
The U.S. average retail price for a gallon of gasoline rose 4 cents from last week to $2.73 per gallon and was $0.26 per gallon higher than last year at this time. Prices were generally up across the country with the largest regional price increase in the Midwest where a gallon of gasoline shot up six cents. The East Coast saw a price increase comparable with the national average, while the Gulf Coast and West Coast saw smaller increases of three cents per gallon and one cent per gallon, respectively. Prices on the West Coast remained the highest in the country at $2.96 per gallon but the California average of $3.01 per gallon was 6 cents lower than a year ago. The Rocky Mountain region, where the price was down a penny, was the only region to see a decline this week.
Retail diesel prices were up across the country this week, with the national average gaining a nickel to reach $3.00 per gallon, $0.42 higher than last year. Like gasoline, the biggest gain was in the Midwest where retail diesel was six cents higher than last week. Diesel on the East Coast increased a nickel, in line with the national average, while the Gulf Coast and West Coast were close behind, both up about four cents. Prices on the West Coast remained the highest in the country at $3.17 per gallon. The Rocky Mountain region was the laggard this week, increasing a cent from last week.
Propane Stocks Post a Build
Total U.S. inventories of propane experienced a small build last week, adding 0.6 million barrels to end at 64.0 million barrels. Propane stocks are almost 9 million barrels below the same period last year and are at a level that is near the lower boundary of the average range. The Gulf Coast region added 0.4 million barrels of propane stocks, while the Midwest and Rocky Mountain/West Coast regions both grew by about 0.1 million barrels. Propane inventories on the East Coast were up slightly. Propylene non-fuel use inventories fell slightly and represented 3.8 percent of total propane/propylene inventories.
Residential Heating Fuel Price Survey Begins for the 2010/2011 Season
Beginning this week and continuing into mid-March 2011, prices for wholesale and residential heating oil and propane will be included in This Week In Petroleum, as well as in the Weekly Petroleum Status Report and on EIA's Heating Oil and Propane Update web page. As of October 4, residential heating oil prices averaged $2.91 per gallon, which is $0.41 per gallon higher than the price during the same week last year. The average wholesale heating oil price of $2.35 per gallon showed an increase of $0.49 per gallon when compared to the same time last year.
Residential propane prices are starting the season at $2.35 per gallon on average, which is $0.29 per gallon more than one year ago. Wholesale propane prices averaged $1.31 per gallon as of October 4. This was an increase of $0.32 per gallon from the same week in 2009.
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