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Weak gasoline demand reflects struggling economy

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

At 9.3 million bpd, US gasoline deliveries fell slightly in July 2010 compared with July 2009, continuing weak deliveries for the first half of the year and mirroring the faltering US economy. Except for 2009, it was the lowest July gasoline demand number since 2003.

Total petroleum demand, on the other hand, rose 3.8% in July over a year ago. This includes a strong 11.6% increase for deliveries of low sulfur distillates, which are primarily diesel fuels using in trucking, and a 6.9% increase in kerosene jet fuel deliveries.


‘With unemployment high and July regular gasoline prices more than 20 cents a gallon above those a year ago, consumers likely have been shopping and vacationing less and trimmed their gasoline purchases accordingly,’ said API Chief Economist John Felmy. ‘In contrast, the increase in distillate fuel demand from last July continues the stronger distillate demand numbers observed over the first half of 2010, following 29 straight months of decline beginning in October 2007. This suggests some growth in industrial and commercial activity. But,’ he emphasised, ‘a recovery it certainly does not prove. We need to be cautious about implementing policies, including increasing taxes on the petroleum industry, that could squelch nascent growth and keep more Americans unemployed.’

Domestic crude oil production rose marginally in July over June 2010 to 5.4 million bpd. That was down 0.4% from July 2009 but still higher than any other July since 2004. US drilling activity increased over June, according to Baker Hughes Inc.

US refineries produced 9.4 million bpd of gasoline in July, up from June and from a year before, which helped raise refinery utilisation rates to 87.4%, marking the third consecutive monthly increase. Total product imports for July at 2.1 million bpd were down, but gasoline imports including blending components were up 4.1% from the previous July. Crude oil imports rose by 5.6% from July a year ago to 9.6 million bpd. Crude oil and gasoline stocks continued to build from June levels and also were up from July a year ago. Distillate stocks were up from June but down from July a year ago.

American Petroleum Institute

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