Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) fell 4.3 percent in August against a year ago to 18.6 million barrels per day, reports the American Petroleum Institute (API).
While this was up 2.8 percent from the month before, it was the lowest August level in 15 years and contributed to 2.6 percent lower petroleum demand for the year to date compared with the same period in 2011, the Institute said.
Gasoline, distillate and jet fuel demand followed the same pattern. Gasoline demand was down for the month against a year ago by 0.4 percent and down year to date by 0.9 percent. Distillate demand fell by 8.5 percent in August and was down 3.0 percent for the year to date. And jet fuel fell 7.4 percent for August and was down 2.5 percent for the year to date.
“Given the nation’s weak employment situation, it’s no surprise petroleum demand was off,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “Contraction in the manufacturing sector probably also reflects the slipping numbers.”
Total refinery inputs and production of all four major products (gasoline, distillate, residual, and kerosene-jet fuel) fell in August. Yet, production of these products was greater than demand. As a result, product imports decreased and exports increased. Total imports of crude and refined products in August fell by 4.6 percent to average 10.5 million barrels per day. For the first eight months of 2012, refined product imports were below export levels.
Refinery utilization rose to 90.6 percent in August from the year before.
Crude oil production in August declined 2.8 percent from July, a reflection of lost Gulf of Mexico production in the storm period that totaled as much as 1.3 million barrels per day – or 95 percent of all Gulf production. Yet production for August, while lowest for any month this year, still was above 6.0 million barrels per day. This was 7.0 percent above production from the same month a year ago and contributed to year-to-date production that was 11.9 percent higher than a year ago.
The number of oil and gas rigs decreased from 1,944 in July to 1,913 in August, according to the latest reports from Baker-Hughes, Inc., and has stayed under 2,000 for all of 2012.
Crude oil stocks were up 2.7 percent from August a year ago, but down 1.9 percent from July levels to end in August at 358.8 million barrels. Stocks of all major products were down from last year’s levels. Gasoline stocks were down 4.3 percent in August from a year ago and down 3.0 percent from July.
API represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies.