Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) fell 3.8 percent in September against a year ago to 18.2 million barrels per day, reported the American Petroleum Institute (API).
Demand was down 2.4 percent year to date compared with a year ago and down 2.1 percent from last month, August 2012. September deliveries were at their second lowest level for that month since 1996.
Gasoline, distillate and residual fuel demand also declined in September versus a year ago, with gasoline demand falling 2.0 percent. It also registered a 3.6 percent decline from the month before. In contrast, jet fuel demand was up 3.4 percent from September 2011.
“The September demand numbers indicate there’s still substantial weakness in the economy,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “While manufacturing and employment have improved some, we’ve yet to see strong momentum developing.”
Total refinery inputs and production fell for gasoline, residual, and kerosene-jet fuel in September. Yet, production of these products was greater than demand, resulting in lower product imports and higher product exports. From January to September 2012, refined product imports continued to be below export levels. Crude oil imports fell by 1.1 percent to average just over 8.8 million barrels per day in September.
In September, refinery utilization slipped to 86.9 percent. Refinery operable capacity was 17.231 million per day in June, down more than one-half million barrels a day from May, which reflected the closure of two refineries on the East Coast.
Crude oil production was up from the prior month, prior year, and prior year to date, averaging 6.295 million barrels per day, which was the highest September level since 1997. North Dakota crude oil production was above 700,000 barrels per day for the second consecutive month. Alaska production in September rose by 28.6 percent from August to 526,000 barrels per day, offsetting some of the year-to-date slide, but was down 10.1 percent from last year.
The number of oil and gas rigs decreased from 1,913 in August to 1,859 in September, according to the latest reports from Baker-Hughes, Inc., and has stayed below 2,000 every month in 2012.
Crude oil stocks were up 9.7 percent from September a year ago and up 1.5 percent from August to end at 364.1 million barrels. Stocks of all major products were down from last year’s levels. Gasoline stocks were down 7.0 percent in September from a year ago and down 0.7 percent from August.
API is a national trade association that represents the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.