Deliveries of all petroleum products in January – a measure of demand – were flat compared with deliveries for the same month one year ago. While both gasoline and distillate deliveries rose, the increases were offset by declines in both jet fuel and residual fuel oil deliveries. The year-to-year demand increase for gasoline of 1.6 percent came despite gasoline selling at the highest nominal January prices ever at over $3 per gallon, according to API’s Monthly Statistical Report.
“Higher prices and slowing economic growth continue to affect demand. However, Americans continue to use substantial amounts of transportation fuels for personal and business use. The strength of gasoline deliveries is somewhat surprising considering that growth in demand for gasoline for all of last year was only about half a percent and gasoline prices this past January were 80 cents per gallon higher than January 2007,” said Ron Planting, manager, information and analysis, for API.
Refineries set a January record for producing gasoline at 9.04 million barrels per day and for producing distillate at nearly 4.2 million barrels per day. Imports of petroleum fell 3.0 percent with most of the decline coming from products as opposed to crude oil. Product imports fell 11.8 percent from a year ago to just over 3.0 million barrels a day.
“While refineries produced a lot of gasoline in January and, indeed, set a January record for the four major products – gasoline, distillate, jet fuel, and residual oil – production of those products was down about 1.5 percent from December,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “The big picture is that petroleum demand has been relatively stagnant for three years. The January numbers are consistent with the trend.”
Domestic crude oil production averaged 5.07 million barrels per day in January, down 3.8 percent from a year ago and the lowest level since September 2006. Crude oil imports, though slipping marginally from a year ago, were still at their second highest level ever for January at 10.19 million barrels per day.
In January, for the first time in seven months, crude oil inventories rose from the prior month, jumping up 8.5 million barrels or 2.9 percent from December 2007’s 35-month low to stand at 302.2 million barrels. Gasoline inventories rose for the third consecutive month, by 4.9 percent from December to 225.2 million barrels.