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US gasoline demand down in May

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Gasoline deliveries (a measure of demand) were down from May a year ago and down year to date from 2010, while still higher than this past April. At 9.2 million bpd, they slipped to an eight year low for May, not including May 2009. Total petroleum deliveries, at 19.5 million bpd, were up by 3.7% from last year, continuing to gain as they did in April. Distillate deliveries rose 7% from May 2010 and were at a three year high, yet remained significantly lower than 2005 - 2008 levels. Ultra low sulfur distillate deliveries were lower in May than in March and April.

‘The May numbers against a year ago were a mixed bag. Distillate demand showed some strength; gasoline demand declined some,’ said API chief economist John Felmy. ‘Consumers of gasoline may have been adjusting to higher prices by increasing use of public transportation, more telecommuting, more purchases of fuel efficient vehicles and cutting down on discretionary travel.’

Despite the softer gasoline demand, gasoline production was 2% higher than a year ago, and, at 9.4 million bpd, it was at a record high for any May and a record high for the year to date. Distillate production, on the other hand, was lower than last year. Refinery utilitisation and crude oil runs were below levels of a year ago.

Crude oil production in May fell by 1.6% compared with last year to 5.4 million bpd. On a year to date basis, crude oil production was slightly up by 0.3%. Crude oil production in the lower 48 states fell by 2.7% while Alaskan crude oil production increased by 8.1%. According to Baker Hughes Inc., the number of oil and gas rigs jumped from April to May, up by 40 to 1836, a three year high.

For the first five months of this year, total imports of crude and petroleum products were down 4.6% compared with last year. Crude imports dropped by 8.8% while refined product imports continued their year over year declines for the fifth month in a row, falling 12.6% in May.

For the fifth month in a row, crude oil inventories continued to build and were at a record high for the month of May since 1980. All refined product stocks were down compared with May 2010.

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