U.S. Base Oil Imports Fell Sharply in November


Base oil exports from the United States were barely higher in November compared to the same month of 2021, while imports dropped sharply to the lowest level in 16 months.

Exports of mineral base oils totaled 2.35 million barrels in November, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, up from 2.34 million barrels in November of the previous year. As usual, Mexico was the country receiving the largest share of those exports – 5587,000 barrels – but it’s total decreased from 731,000 barrels year to year.

Belgium received the next-largest amount at 295,000 barrels, which was down from 375,000 barrels, while the amount going to Brazil fell from 234,000 barrels to 153,000 barrels. Those decreases were offset by increases to Canada (from 253,000 barrels to 286,000 barrels), to sporadically supplied Nigeria, which received 129,000 barrels, and a smattering of countries importing smaller amounts.

The United States produces more base oils than any other nation and is one of the world’s biggest exporters of API Group I and II oils.

The country imported 967,000 barrels of base oil in November, down from 1.6 million barrels the same month of 2021. That was the first month to fall below 1 million barrels since July 2021 and the lowest total since 702,000 barrels that same month. November may have been down at least partly because of the unusually high amount of base oils imported the previous month. The October number was 2.2 million barrels, the highest monthly amount in more than a year and significantly higher than any other month this year. July and August had the next-highest amounts at 1.7 million barrels each.

The administration reported just 1,000 barrels imported from South Korea, which generally is the largest base oil exporter to the U.S. and supplied 439,000 barrels in Novemberof 2021. This was just the fifth month since 2010 that less than 100,000 barrels shipped from South Korea. No imports were reported from the United Arab Emirates, which exported 95,000 barrels to the U.S. in November of 2021 and which topped 200,000 barrels each month from May through October.

Qatar shipped 370,000 barrels, down from 406,000 barrels, while Canada’s contribution stayed nearly even at 292,000 barrels, compared to 294,000 barrels in November of 2021. No shipments were reported from Indonesia, which does register most months and which exported 134,000 barrels to the U.S. in November of 2021.

Most of the base oils imported to the United States are Group III, as the country has little capacity to produce that category.

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