Refineries Continue to Run at High Levels in the Central United States
While the well-publicized growth in U.S. tight oil production has the potential to significantly alter long-standing relationships in international crude oil markets, domestic price divergences resulting from this growth have already had a major impact on the U.S. refining sector.
Monthly data for May from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirm two trends: U.S. refineries continue to run at high levels, and disparities in the regional economics of the U.S. refining market persist. U.S. refineries have run 330,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) (2.3 percent) more crude oil year-to-date through May in 2012 compared to 2011 (Figure 1). This increase in crude runs has been concentrated in the Midwest, Gulf Coast, and Rocky Mountain regions, areas which have access to discounted land-locked crude oils or which have refineries with substantial upgrading capacity.