As October retail gasoline prices rose, supplies delivered to U.S. consumers for the month – an average of 9.35 million barrels per day – inched above those of a year ago by a modest 0.9 percent. Meanwhile, overall domestic petroleum deliveries turned slightly down, led by a fall in distillate deliveries of more than 3 percent compared with strong October 2006 distillate numbers, API said.
“Higher prices appear to have tempered demand,” said API statistics manager Ron Planting, noting that U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed gasoline prices rising at the end of October, reaching an average of $2.80 per gallon for regular gasoline.
Planting added, “Between 1992 and 2002, when prices were relatively stable, growth in demand averaged 1.8 percent per year. In contrast, for the past five years, when per-year retail prices increased an average of 12 percent, demand growth slipped to just over 1 percent per year,” he said.
API’s Monthly Statistical Report shows crude oil, gasoline and jet fuel inventories declining for October. The total for crude oil (313 million barrels at month-end) was the lowest for the year and, unusually, below September’s number. The decline partly reflected a reduction in crude oil imports. Distillate inventories, on the other hand, increased for the month, achieving the highest level since January, as refiners prepared for the heating oil season. (Distillate oil includes home heating oil and diesel fuel.) The rise in distillate inventories was accompanied by an unusual rise in October distillate production, over usually higher-production September, and by a rise in distillate imports.
Total crude oil and product imports declined in October to their lowest level since February and their lowest October level in four years.
Although gasoline imports weakened, U.S. gasoline production was strong in October, declining slightly from September levels, but still reaching the highest level ever for the month.
U.S. crude oil production bounced back from its 12-month September low, averaging 5.12 million barrels per day in October. A surge in Alaskan production of 3.2 percent to its highest level in three months accounted for the increase.