Total US petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) were up 1.2% in December against the same month last year and up 2.3 % for 2010 compared with 2009, evidence the US economy continues to gain momentum. Both gasoline and diesel deliveries were up for full year 2010 over 2009, gasoline by 0.6% and distillates by 4.8%. Also, US refiners set a record for annual gasoline production.
‘The robust distillate numbers suggest the nation’s industrial sector continues to rebound,’ said API chief economist John Felmy. ‘They were up both month over month and year over year. While consumer demand for gasoline was weak during this winter holiday season, higher prices and bad weather might have kept people off the roads. The other side of that is overall retail sales were up, led by a big 12% increase in e-commerce sales. People were doing more shopping online, and that, in turn, spurred more truck shipping and an increase in deliveries of ultra low sulfur diesel, a subset of total distillates and the kind of fuel the on road trucks use, by more than 16% this December over last.’
US refiner activity increased, finishing a strong year. Total inputs to crude distillation units moved 1.5% higher this December against last, and refinery utilisation increased by 4.4% from December 2009 to 85.7%. In addition to yearly average motor gasoline production reaching an all time high, yearly average distillate fuel production was at its second highest level ever (after 2008).
Domestic crude oil production rose by 1.3% this December over December 2009, reaching 5.52 million bps. Lower 48 crude production was up while Alaska production slipped slightly.
December’s crude oil and product imports, a 10.6 million bpd were down from November but slightly up from December a year ago, driven by increases in crude imports. Crude imports at 8.8 million bpd were up by 8.1% while total product imports, at 1.8 million bpd, were down by 24.3%.
US crude stocks in December had steep yet seasonal declines, down by 6.5% from November but up by 2.2% from December 2009. At 332.2 million bbls, this was the highest crude stock level since December 1994. All products showed stock declines in December compared with November 2010. Total motor gasoline stocks were 1.3% lower which distillate stocks were 0.4% lower.
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