U.S. oil exports exploded in the first three months of 2016, according to federal data, as more countries buy up American crude in the wake of the federal export ban lifted late last year.
American oil exports grew from from 11.3 million barrels in January to 15.7 million barrels in March, according to Energy Department data, but CNN Money points out that exports to countries, aside from Canada, grew seven-fold.
U.S. companies sent eight million barrels of oil to Japan, Italy and even Curacao in March. That’s way up from the 1.2 million barrels of oil exported in January, the month after President Barack Obama signed a budget bill that included an end to the 40-year-old ban on oil exports.
In total, however, U.S. exports are only slightly up from October 2015 because Canada has been buying less oil in the months since. For years, Canada was the only outlet for U.S. crude oil, but now other countries can bid for American oil.
Canadian imports of U.S. crude have been almost halved since last October, from nearly 14 million barrels that month to 7.7 million barrels in March 2016, according to DOE data. But exports to places, like Japan, more than made up for declining Canadian sales.
Interestingly enough, the strong demand from the island nation of Curacao likely means Venezuela is buying up lots of U.S. oil to try and ease the country’s ongoing energy crisis.
“Now with the U.S. able to export … they can source their needs closer to home and at a lower cost,” Anthony Starkey, an energy analysis manager at Platts Analytics, told CNN Money.
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