AFPM President and CEO Chet Thompson issued the following statement: "AFPM applauds the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for elevating this important matter. Mexico’s policies toward American energy companies need to be addressed in the spirit of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA). American refiners have made significant investments in Mexico-based operations, jobs and infrastructure and we want our trade relationships with Mexico to remain healthy and mutually beneficial.”
The return of fuel demand to pre-pandemic levels and the slower rebound of crude oil and fuel production has created concerns about whether supplies of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel will be sufficient to meet global demand. U.S. refineries are up and running at near maximum utilization. Other major refining countries, for a variety of reasons, have not kept pace bringing their facilities back into operation or resuming sales of fuel to the market. As a result, wholesale fuel prices have increased and so have refinery “crack spreads."
A Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) release—which basically involves making additional barrels of crude oil available for sale to the world market—is meant to increase global supply. Meeting today’s demand with more supply is a recipe for lower prices. The United States released millions of barrels from our SPR in the past several months, as did many other countries.
Refinery utilization, measures how much crude oil refineries are processing or “running” as a percentage of their maximum capacity. It tells us roughly how much of our refining muscle is being put to work manufacturing fuel. American refineries are running full-out, at about 95% of total capacity, contributing more fuel—gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc.—to the global market than any other country. In fact, U.S. refineries process more crude oil every day than the United States produces, and we make more finished fuels than the United States consumes.
Some policymakers are rumored to be considering a ban on crude oil and/or U.S. refined product exports. This would be a mistake. Ending U.S. crude oil or refined product exports won’t help U.S. consumers by lowering prices at pump. In fact, it could make things even worse. Let’s take a closer look at how a refined product export ban would affect gasoline and diesel supplies and, thus, prices in the United States and around the world.
AFPM President and CEO Chet Thompson and API President and CEO Mike Sommers sent a letter to President Biden responding to recent letters the Administration sent to major U.S. fuel refiners suggesting that these companies, their workforces and facilities throughout the country aren’t doing their part to bring fuel to the market and lower energy costs for consumers.
We are surprised and disappointed by the President’s letter. Any suggestion that U.S. refiners are not doing our part to bring stability to the market is false. We would encourage the Administration to look inward to better understand the role their policies and hostile rhetoric have played in the current environment.
The United States has the most complex and efficient refining industry in the world, but we also have less refining capacity than we used to. Where the issue of refining capacity is concerned, it’s important to understand what refining capacity is, why we’ve lost capacity in the United States and how policies can advance the competitiveness of our refineries in the global market.
Oil markets are famously sensitive to uncertainty. Global conflict can send prices higher on concerns that crude oil supplies could be disrupted. This is playing out in response to Russia’s unprovoked acts of war against Ukraine. Russia is a major supplier of crude oil and other energy products globally, though less so in the United States. In recent days, many market participants have committed to stop purchasing Russian oil. Shipping companies are concerned about loading cargoes from Russia and some shippers are finding the cost associated with such cargoes too high. These moves are tightening an already tight market.