HOUSTON, May 19 (Reuters) – U.S. refiners imported about 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude and fuel oil from Latin America in April, the highest in seven months according to U.S. Customs data, as buyers began replacing Russian supplies.
The United States in March banned imports of Russian crude and refined products over its invasion of Ukraine, setting April 22 as end date for purchases. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged companies to adopt “friend-shoring” supply networks, or buying from trusted countries.
Russia supplied about 135,000 bpd, or 5.5% of total U.S. crude imports last year, and 155,350 bpd, or 29%, of fuel oil imports, according to Customs data on Refinitiv Eikon. Russian crude imports touched a record high in 2021 after hurricanes disrupted production, data from Energy Information Administration.
Imports of fuel oil from Latin America averaged some 200,000 bpd in March and April, 49% higher than in the previous 12 months. Mexico’s share of U.S. fuel oil imports climbed to about 27% in March and April, from 19% a year earlier, the data showed.
About 15 vessels discharged 159,000 bpd of Mexican fuel oil in Louisiana, California, Texas and Florida, supplying Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and Marathon Petroleum Corp(MPC.N), among others.
“The really interesting storyline has been Mexico’s ability to capture market share from Russia,” said energy strategist Clay Seigle. “The U.S. market for Russian fuel oil has been permanently destroyed.”