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US petroleum demand: January

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Total US petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) fell to their second lowest January level in 10 years, as harsh winter storms kept people home across much of the nation. Seasonal demand for heating oil soared by more than 40% compared with January a year ago, while ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) deliveries fell to their lowest level for any January in a decade and gasoline deliveries remained weak, though still edging above January 2010 deliveries.


‘The snow and cold kept people at home this January, and many roads and highways were impassable for periods. That’s a big part of what you’re seeing in the demand numbers,’ said API chief economist John Felmy. ‘Total petroleum demand was up only about 1.7% from January a year ago.’

Despite a dip in demand, refineries produced more gasoline, distillate fuels and jet fuels. Gasoline production was up by 4.9% from last year and reached a record high for any January. Refinery utilisation was 2.6% higher than in January 2010, and, at 81.6%, the utilisation rate was 9.4 percentage points higher than the 73.2% average cited by the Federal Reserve Board for all manufacturing in December 2010.

While refinery production increased in January, imports of products declined. With the exception of residual fuels, imports of all major refined products declined compared with January a year ago.

Domestic production of crude oil, at 5.2 million bpd, dropped 3.7%, primarily due to a closure of the 800 mile Trans Alaskan pipeline system. Production in the lower 48 states was up slightly.

Crude oil and product inventories increased in January compared with December 2010, and total motor gasoline and distillate fuel stocks were higher in January than the 5 year and 10 year January averages.

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