The price of gasoline and diesel fuel hit record highs in 2011 while the U.S. exported record amounts of refined petroleum products to south America, the Caribbean and Europe. The high cost of gas in the U.S. drove down demand, but high prices were maintained by exporting over twice as much refined fuel in 2011 than was exported in 2007.
In 2007, U.S. exports of all kinds of fuel held steady throughout the year at 1.24 million to 1.25 million barrels a day, according to Energy Department statistics.
But by 2011, exports of diesel, gasoline and other products surged. In November and December, U.S. fuel exports averaged between 2.77 million barrels a day and 2.89 million barrels a day, the highest ever.
Meanwhile, U.S. drivers paid an average of about $3.50 a gallon for gasoline during the year, also the highest ever.
Gasoline stocks have ranged from normal to above normal in 2011, but prices have gone up despite dropping demand. This apparently paradoxical situation is occurring because supplies of conventional crude oil have peaked while growing economies in South America have increased demand for refined fuel.
image source:US EIA
The U.S. imports far more crude oil than it produces, but it now has more refining capacity than required to meet domestic demand. U.S. refineries now import foreign oil to sell refined products overseas for profit. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a way to get more oil to Gulf coast refineries which have access to ports for shipping refined products overseas.
Heating oil costs directly track the price of diesel fuel. With diesel at record levels this year, heating oil costs are also at record levels. The northeastern U.S. which continues to use heating oil will be hard hit this winter by the high costs of fuel. Nine million families, mostly in the northeast, have relied on federal assistance to stay warm.
Drastic cuts to fuel cost assistance to the poor through the LIHEAP program will be hitting the poor hard this week as a polar outbreak blows into New England and the mid-Atlantic states. Temperatures in central and northern New England are forecast to drop below zero Fahrenheit. The elderly, who are very sensitive to cold, may have to chose between food or heat. Some seniors could freeze to death this week.
Mary Power, 92, doesn’t know anything about that. She only knows her state heating assistance is being cut by $400 and she can’t afford the kerosene needed to keep her West Roxbury trailer warm. How will she get through the winter?
“I don’t know. I have no idea. I guess that I just have to wrap up in blankets and stay under the covers,”
Meanwhile Republicans in Congress push the Keystone XL Pipeline to bring dirty Canadian tar sands crude to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast so that the Koch Brothers can make higher profits by exporting more diesel fuel to south America and Europe. Read about the Koch Connection by Crashing Vor.
The Keystone XL Pipeline could actually raise fuel prices in the U.S. and cost jobs by increasing fuel exports. A Siegel explains how Keystone XL could cost U.S. jobs by raising domestic fuel costs.
Back in Canada, tar sands exploitation is creating an enormous environmental disaster. NASA photos capture the cancerous growth of tar sands waste lands from space.
We must renew our efforts to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.
We must pressure congress and the president to increase heating assistance to seniors, the disabled and the poor to save lives. We cannot tolerate letting our elderly freeze so that the Koch Brothers can increase their billions of dollars of wealth and further corrupt American politics.