API: U.S. July oil use drops 1.7% to 18 million bopd
BY DAVID BIRD
NEW YORK -- U.S. petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, fell by 2.7% in July from a year earlier to the lowest level in any month since September 2008, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said Friday.
Demand in the world' s biggest oil consumer, at 18.062 million bopd, was the weakest for the month of July since 1995, the API said. Year-to-date demand is down 2.3% from the same period in 2011.
Demand for gasoline, the most widely used petroleum product, dropped 3.8% from a year earlier, to 8.624 million bopd, the lowest July level since 1997. Gasoline use in the heart of the peak summer driving season was 2.2% lower than in June. January-July gasoline demand averaged 1.1% below a year earlier, at 8.671 million barrels a day, the API said.
"While retail sales for July are up and housing has improved, the weak petroleum demand numbers are a strong indication the economy is still faltering," said John Felmy, API chief economist. "Unfortunately, achieving robust growth will likely continue to be an uphill climb given the nation' s fiscal challenges, business uncertainty, and a European economy in jeopardy of sliding back into recession."
Demand for ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which is used to power trucks and trains, and increasingly as home-heating oil, rose 4.1% from a year earlier, to 3.45 million barrels a day in July, the API said. Demand for ULSD and other grades of distillate fuels was 4.9% higher than a year earlier, at 3.622 million bpd, but year-to-date total distillate use is off 0.6% from the same period in 2011.
Kerosine-based jet fuel use fell 0.8% in July from a year ago, to 1.455 million bpd, while demand for heavy residual fuel, used in power plants and industrial burners, dropped 7.1% year-on-year, to 294,000 bpd.
Despite weak demand, refinery output was high, with gasoline output near 9 million bpd, the third-highest level for July on record, but 2% below a year earlier.
Distillate production at nearly 4.8 million bpd set a record for July and was the third highest monthly level ever, API said. Distillate output was 2.6% above the year-earlier level. Output of 4.5 million bpd in the January-July period also set a record and was 4.3% above the same period in 2011.
Inputs to refineries averaged nearly 16 million bopd in July, the highest monthly level thus far in 2012 and 2.3% above a year earlier. Year-to-date inputs of 15.3 million barrels a day were up 3.4% from the same period last year.
Production of all four major products--gasoline, distillate, jet fuel and residual fuel--was greater than demand for those products. As a result, petroleum imports decreased and exports increased. Total imports of crude and refined products fell by 9.6% to average 10.4 million bopd in July. Exports of refined products increased 11.1% to a record high for July of 3.244 million bpd, and year-to-date exports were up 14% compared with the same period in 2011.
Refineries operated at 92.7% of capacity in July, the second month in a row above 90%.
Crude oil production rose 13.6% year on year in July to 6.225 million bpd, the highest July level since 1998. Year-to-date output averaged near the July level and was up 11.9% from the same period in 2011.
Crude oil stocks rose 5.1% in July from a year earlier, but dropped 4.3% from June, to end the month at 365.8 million bbl.
Stocks of all major products were down from July 2011 levels. But gasoline stocks rose 1.9% from June and distillate stocks increased by 5% on a month to month basis.
Dow Jones Newswires