WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. oil companies are expected to be net exporters of refined petroleum products for the first time in decades, the government reported.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the country produced more gasoline in September than it needed, exporting 430,000 barrels per day more than it imported, CNNMoney reported Monday.
While it may frustrate consumers to realize the United States exports gasoline, given the high prices at the gas pump, the exports are not necessarily related to prices.
Gasoline demand has fallen by 10 percent, 800,000 barrels per day, in recent years, as U.S. vehicles have become more fuel-efficient and the use of ethanol has cut into gasoline consumption. Presently, the country, still a net importer of crude oil, has a larger refining capacity than it needs and demand is high in emerging countries in South American and elsewhere.
"We've got plenty of excess refining capacity. It's a reminder that this is a global oil market, and it's reflected by the movements of products to where they will get the highest prices," said EIA spokesman Jonathan Cogan.
Forcing oil companies to keep the excess gasoline in the country to bring down prices would only mean other countries would pick up the slack in the refining business and domestic jobs would be lost, said industry analyst Tom Kloza at Oil Price Information Service.
"If you restrict exports, you'd really be looking for trouble. You'd just see the refining and the jobs go offshore," he said.