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EIA: Seasonal gasoline consumption figures may be misleading

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Gasoline product supplied figures, as reported in US Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly data, shows a more pronounced seasonal rise compared to previous years.

From early May to the week ending 5th July 2013, US product supplied for gasoline increased 10% to 9.3 million bpd.

According to Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR) figures, product supplied for gasoline surpassed the five year average for the weeks ending 28th June and 5th July.

Gasoline consumption has averaged 8.6 million bpd in 2013, 0.4 million bpd below the five year average and marginally above 2012 average consumption.

Misleading figures?

The EIA has outlined that reported recent demand increases are unlikely to represent the beginning of a major demand boost. At least some of the rise could be a result of the way EIA estimates weekly data.

The export data used in EIA’s monthly product supplied calculation come from the US Bureau of the Census, which releases data on a monthly basis, with a two month lag. This means that the weekly product supplied data figures quoted above are estimated using two month old export data.

Adjustments to the WPSR motor gasoline export number have ranged between +300 000 to -280 000 bpd, well within the range of historical adjustments.

This suggests that although the seasonal upward trend in gasoline demand is likely to continue, the recent surge in demand over the previous year and the five year average may become less pronounced once the Bureau of the Census releases export data for June and July.

Gasoline prices fall

The average US retail price of gasoline decreased to US$ 3.65/gal as of 29th July 2013, up 14 cents from this time last year.

Prices fells in all regions bar the Rocky Mountains, where the price increased two cents to US$ 3.64/gal.

Diesel prices rise

US national average diesel fuel price rose one cent to US$ 3.92/gal. This is 12 cents higher than this time last year, and is the highest price since mid April. Prices rose in all regions, with the largest increase occurring in the Rocky Mountains, where the price is up to US$ 3.91/gal.

Propane inventories build

Total US propane inventories increased 1.9 million bbl from last week to reach 61.3 million bbl. However, this is still 6.2 million bbl (9.1%) lower than the same period last year.

Gulf Coast and Midwest regions demonstrate the largest gains, with each rising by approximately 0.8 million bbl.

Rocky Mountains and West Coast stocks increased by approximately 0.2 million bbl.

Meanwhile, East Coast stocks increased by 0.1 million bbl.

Propylene non-fuel use inventories represented 4.8% of total propane inventories.

Adapted from press release by Emma McAleavey.

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