Monday, March 2, 2015

60% of new US oil output is being refined and exported; 200 of us will die by bomb train so that can continue

before we get to this weeks news, we're going to add a postscript to last week's coverage of the oil bomb trains....in all the excitement of reporting about trains & refineries blowing sky high in various parts of the country and Canada, we forgot to point out that a lot of that fuel being hauled cross country isn't even intended for our use; it's for export...in tracking the monthly trade report for years, i've noticed that while fracking increased, our exports of refined products have been increasing, but because the data in the trade reports from the Commerce Dept is reported in dollars and prices change continuously, it's been difficult to get a handle on how much...however, the reports from the energy Department give us the data on production and exports in barrels of oil and refined product, so we can check their records and discover exactly what has been going on under the guise of drilling our way to energy independence...

as you may recall from our discussion of the Obama administration's ruling allowing exports of ultralight oils originating from US oil shale wells, exports of US crude are prohibited by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, except in the cases of special licenses given by the Commerce Dept, or in trade with Canada and Mexico, where NAFTA specifically mandates that trade...hence our exports of crude oil itself aren't too significant, and have generally been well less than 2% of total output until recent months, probably rising now as our exports of light Bakken crude to Canada have increased as a blender for the much heavier Canadian crude...a screenshot of an interactive graph from the EIA of our monthly crude exports since 1920 is shown below, which indicates that we exported 13,692,000 barrels of crude in December, a bit less than 2% of our 286,003,000 barrels of crude production for the month...

December 2014 crude exports

on the other hand, our total exports of refined products has continued to increase as fracking increased...the graph below, also from the EIA, shows our total exports of finished refined products since 1980...in December of 2014, US based oil companies exported 96,368,000 barrels of finished products, about in line with recent US refinery exports of 97,570,000 barrels , 92,803,000 barrels, and 98,373,000 barrels in December 2011, 2112 and 2013 respectively, but more than twice the 42,032,000 barrels of product US refiners exported in December 2007...in 2013, the last year the EIA (Energy Information Administration) has complete annual data for, the output of US refineries and fuel blending facilities totaled 6,746,361 barrels of various finished refinery products; in that same year, 970,997,000 barrels, or 14.4% of our total refinery output, was shipped out of the country...

2014 total refined products exports

NB: so we all have a sense of what kind of fuels we're exporting, we'll include a few graphs of those exports here...but for the remainder of this discussion we'll use 2013 totals, because although the EIA published December 2014 data on Friday, they have not updated their annual data and graphs, and monthly data is too noisy to easily use to accurately show the trend...when they update their annual stats, we'll update the remainder of the data and graphs we use here and repost it...

the next graph from the EIA shows 70 years of total US exports of various grades of distillate fuel oils, the majority of which are most often used as home heating oil and diesel fuel...in 2013, US refiners exported 413,888,000 barrels of fuel oil, or about 24% of our total 2013 distillate fuel oil production of 1,727,493,000 barrels...that's more than a 10 fold increase from the 40,101,000 barrels of fuel oils we exported in 2004, and clearly US exports of fuel oil continue to accelerate...

2013 fuel oil exports

the next graph from the EIA shows 80 years of US exports of various blends of gasoline; in 2013, we exported 136,146,000 barrels of gasoline, a little more than 4% of our total 2013 production of 3,370,460,000 barrels of gasoline...while that was down from the 174,776000 barrels of gasoline US refiners exported in 2011, it's still almost 3 times as much as the 46,369,000 barrels of gasoline we exported in 2007...

2013 gasoline exports

you'll recall that one of the trains that exploded into flames last week was carrying ethanol; the EIA also shows that 14,737,000 barrels of ethanol were exported in 2013, which would work out to about 4.7% of our 2013 ethanol production of 316,493,000 barrels..but new data out this week from the renewable fuels association shows that US ethanol exports increased to 836 million gallons in 2014, nearly 6% of our 2014 production...that's quite remarkable considering the amount of ethanol we are compelled to use ourselves in our gasoline, and the environmental damage done by pressing marginal farmland into use for it...nearly 40% of our corn crop goes to produce ethanol, and if you didnt know already, more than 89% of US corn is now generically engineered to allow for use of herbicides...

we'll include one more export graph showing US exports of jet fuel annually since 1980...in 2013, US refiners exported 56,989,000 barrels of jet fuel, or about 10.4% of our total 2013 jet fuel production of 547,275,000 barrels...those exports represent nearly a 4 fold increase from the 15,010,000 barrels of jet fuel we exported in 2007, as shown in the interactive screenshot, and once again we can see these exports are nearly rising exponentially..

2013 jet fuel exports

next, we're going to look at a graph that includes total US crude oil production over roughly the same time span...although the EIA graph below shows US crude oil production since 1860, you can see that recent oil output clearly bottomed in 2007 and 2008, at 1,853,166,000 barrels and 1,830,002,000 barrels respectively, and that US crude production had increased by more than 50%, to 2,717,876,000 barrels by 2013...of course, given that we’re fracking half the country, that's not a surprise, but notice that the pickup in production coincides with the increase in exports we saw in the earlier graphs...lets take a closer look at that relationship next...

2013 total domestic production

using 2007 as a common baseline, our field production of crude oil rose by 864,710,000 barrels over the period from 2007 to 2013, from 1,853,166,000 barrels in 2007 to 2,717,876,000 barrels of crude in 2013...over the same period, our exports of refined products more than doubled, from 455,240,000 barrels in 2007 to 970,997,000 barrels in 2013...that's an increase in our refined products exports of 515,757,000 barrels, or on a purely number of barrels basis, nearly 60% of the increase in production that we had over the same period...now, we understand comparing crude to refined products is an apples to oranges comparison, and that one barrel of crude might produce just 16 gallons of gasoline; 8 gallons of diesel fuel, a gallon of tar and a multitude of other refined products...in addition, we know we haven't even considered oil imports, some of which are also refined and exported...but oil is fungible, so just on a quantity of liquids basis, we can still say that it's as if well over half of the new oil production brought about by hydraulic fracking has not gone to benefit Americans in terms of lower priced fuel and heat oil, but has, in effect, been shipped out of the country to enrich the oil companies...and it's not the lower quality bi-products of petroleum, like asphalt, that are being exported; it's the high grade fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel...and we're not talking about supporting a lot of jobs here either; the ongoing strike of 6,500 refinery workers is said to account for 20% of US refining capacity, so by extrapolation there wouldn't be many more than 35,000 non-management refinery employees in the entire US..

which brings us to the 200 deaths that we have headlined this missive about...in the wake of the 3 exploding oil trains that headlined last weeks news, an AP exclusive brought to light a previously unreported analysis by the Department of Transportation that forecasts that an average of 10 oil or ethanol carrying trains will derail and catch fire every year over the next 20 years, causing between $4.5 billion and $6 billion in damages, and probably killing around 200 people when one of those trains eventually derails in a populated area...8% of us now live in an oil train’s expected blast zone, and the government expects that 15 such trains will probably derail this year, and presumably as safety improvements are made, the number of derailments and could be reduced to 5 a year by the year 2034...but remember, those railcars involved in last week's conflagration in West Virginia were already the safer new model cars, and the track and the train that derailed in Canada had just passed a state of the art inspection check...as we've just seen, many of these trains are now traversing the country, from North Dakota to east coast refineries (up to 80 a week through Philadelphia alone), not for our betterment, but for the purpose of delivering profits to the oil companies...and as a dozen or more trains derail this coming year and dozens of us are likely killed, it will serve as an acknowledgement that to the government-energy nexus, dead Americans are now no more than the expected cost of doing business, collateral damage in the eternal war to make profits from oil, whose lives are just as expendable as a wedding party on their way to a contested village in the Mideast...

(first posted at Focus on Fracking)

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