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API Monthly Statistical Report for February 2006

Source: API 3/16/2006, Location: North America

Total domestic deliveries in February showed a modest, year-to-year rise of 0.5 percent, with increases for gasoline and distillate fuel oil being moderated by declines for other products. Gasoline deliveries for the month showed a surprising jump of 3 percent compared with a year earlier. However, when combined with January's unusually weak showing, the resulting year-to-date growth figure of 1.3 percent suggests a milder increase so far in 2006. Meanwhile, distillate deliveries rose 2.4 percent for February, while jet fuel deliveries fell nearly 5 percent. With the dramatic retreat of natural gas prices, fuel switching by industrial and utility users was the likely explanation for residual fuel oil deliveries' February drop.

Crude oil inventories reached their highest month-end level since May 1999. Standing at 334 million barrels, February’s crude inventories increased 12 million barrels over January’s as crude oil inputs to refining fell during the month. With refinery utilization at its lowest February level since 2002, product inventories fell as production slowed. However, major product inventories nevertheless remained more than adequate. Gasoline inventories, for example, ended the month at 2.4 percent above, and distillate inventories, 14 percent above the five-year average.

Two refineries remained offline in February, six months after the first of two hurricanes slammed into the Gulf Coast. Additionally, one refinery in Louisiana which was closed since Katrina hit and began its restart process in January, has not yet returned to full operation. These three refineries represent roughly 5 percent of domestic refining capacity. Utilization for the month averaged 87.1 percent, the lowest February level since 2002, as several refineries shut down to begin their maintenance and turnaround activities. With the exception of the period immediately following the hurricanes, refinery inputs were at their lowest monthly level since February 2003. Production levels of most major products in February were down compared to February 2005. Gasoline production fell 1 percent from a year earlier, though distillate output rose slightly.

Domestic crude oil production shut in by last year’s hurricanes continued to return to production in February, with the month’s output rising about 1 percent from January’s.. However, for the Federal offshore Gulf Coast, about 23 percent of crude oil production and about 14 percent of natural gas production remains shut in, and lower 48 crude production for the month was down 5.7 percent from the same month in 2005. Alaskan production lagged year-ago levels by nearly 10 percent, reaching its lowest monthly level since September.

Total imports of crude oil and products were 1.1 percent higher in February compared with a year ago, despite a decline for product imports. Crude oil imports rose 1.7 percent to 10.3 million barrels per day, while product imports fell close to 1 percent to 3.3 million barrels per day. Declines for gasoline imports and for residual fuel oil were more than enough to offset increases for distillate fuel oil and kerosine jet fuel. Compared with January, resid imports were down 24 percent from that month’s recent-year record, as the substantial drop in natural gas prices likely spurred fuel switching away from resid.

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