While exports of refined petroleum products are up in dollar terms, export volumes are still dwarfed by America's much, much larger imports of crude oil. According to the Associated Press, from January to October, the country imported 2.7 billion barrels of crude oil worth roughly $280 billion, while fuel exports in the same period totaled an estimated $88 billion.
The U.S remains the world's largest importer of crude oil and the country is still a long way from energy independence, but this upward trend in fuel exports is significant.
For decades, the U.S. has relied on huge imports of fuel from Europe in order to meet demand, but the U.S. is now consuming much less fuel because of a weak economy and more efficient cars and trucks. That allows refiners to sell more fuel to rapidly growing economies in Latin America, for example.
The most obvious downside to America's growing role as a fuel exporter is higher domestic prices. The more fuel that's sent overseas, the less of a supply cushion there is at home.
Gasoline supplies are being exported to the highest bidder, says
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service told AP gasoline supplies are being exported to the highest bidder.
"It's a world market," he says.