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API Monthly Statistical Report for May 2006

Source: API 6/14/2006, Location: North America

Total petroleum deliveries slipped 0.8 percent in May compared with one year earlier, with a sharp decline for gasoline deliveries more than offsetting gains for distillate, jet fuel and residual fuel oil. Gasoline deliveries, which typically rise seasonally from April to May, instead held only steady in the face of retail gasoline prices some 35 percent higher than one year earlier. As a result, gasoline deliveries for the month fell 3.3 percent from May 2005ís level.

Meanwhile, distillate deliveries rose 1.2 percent and included significant volumes of ultra-low sulfur diesel for the first time. Ultra-low sulfur diesel is expected to provide significant air quality benefits, in combination with improved on-highway diesel engines due later this year. According to government requirements, refiners are required to begin producing this cleaner fuel beginning June 1, and retail availability is required by October 15 in most areas. Jet fuel deliveries rose an unusually strong 5.1 percent from last May, and resid deliveries showed an increase despite a relative price advantage for natural gas for industrial and utility users with fuel-switching capability.

With all refineries idled by last yearís hurricanes now running, if not all at normal rates, the national average utilization rate in May jumped to 91.7 percent. That was the highest since August, before Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. However, this was still less than last Mayís 94.1 percent. Production of all major products continued to lag year-ago levels, though both gasoline and distillate production were the highest observed since December.

Strong product imports, making up the difference, helped push total petroleum imports to a new high in May of 14.3 million barrels per day, up 6.2 percent from May 2005. Mayís product imports reached their third highest level ever at 3.9 million barrels per day, while crude oil imports rose to their highest level in nearly a year at over 10.4 million barrels per day. Contributing to the strength for products was a record 1.5 million barrels per day of gasoline imports, including gasoline blending components. Distillate imports reached nearly 440,000 barrels per day, the highest level ever for May, and jet fuel imports nearly tripled to an unusually strong 257 thousand barrels per day.

Although crude oil inventories dipped slightly during May, most major product inventories, except for jet fuel, rose during the month. Crude oil inventories slipped less than 3 million barrels to 345 million barrels, still some 9 percent above the past five-year average for May. Inventories of gasoline distillate, jet fuel, and resid, were all at or above the five-year average level for May. Gasoline inventories were about 1 percent above that average, while distillate inventories stood at more than 8 percent above.

U.S. crude oil productionís string of month-to-month increases, which had marked the pace of recovery from disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, was interrupted in May. The monthís production fell 1.6 percent from April, and was more than 6 percent lower than for May 2005. In the lower 48, about 15 percent of Federal offshore crude oil production in the Gulf remained offline, contributing to the lower 48ís decline of 5.3 percent from a year earlier. Alaskan production slipped again, continuing a series of year-to-year declines in recent months. With several technical problems hampering operations, production there averaged some 10 percent less than in May 2005.

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