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Chinese buying drives surge in US crude exports

WTI's wider price gap with Brent fueling demand for American output

A powerful hurricane knocked out U.S. oil refineries in late August.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- American crude oil exports are running double or triple their levels from a year ago thanks to a deeper discount relative to the international benchmark and a sharp uptick in Chinese purchasing.

The U.S. shipped out 1.21 million barrels of crude a day in the fourth week of December, roughly twice what it did a year earlier, show Energy Information Administration figures released Thursday. And even this is below average for the October-December quarter. America has exported nearly 1.5 million barrels a day over those three months, roughly triple the year-earlier level.

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