A strong increase in distillate fuel demand in April 2011 compared to 2010 drove an overall rise in petroleum product demand. Distillate demand was up 15.2% while overall petroleum product demand was up 5.2%. As gasoline prices rose 24 cents a gallon from March, gasoline demand faltered, falling 2.2% compared with April 2010 and declining for the first time in three months.
‘Growth in product demand was mixed as the US economy struggled to gain momentum,’ said API chief economist John Felmy. ‘Gasoline demand was still up for the year to date over a year ago, but recent higher gasoline and food prices appear to have encouraged consumers to cut back in their driving. In contrast, deliveries of ultra low sulfur distillate, the fuel used in commercial trucking, surged, suggesting continuing forward motion in the economy.’
Although gasoline production at US refineries fell in April for the first time this year, volumes were still the second highest for any April over the past ten years. On a year-to-date basis, gasoline production, like distillate production, remained at a record high.
Crude oil production in April fell 0.5% to 5.5 million bpd, reversing small production volume gains in March over the year before. A 0.6% drop in the lower 48 states led the decline. Year-to-date crude oil production was still up slightly by 0.5%.
Total imports of crude oil and petroleum products were down by 9.9% in April compared with last year, a trend seen through all four months of 2011. The US continued to be a net exporter of refined products.
Inventories of crude oil, at 365.1 million bbls, were 2.7% higher than in March and 1.2% higher than in April 2010. Gasoline stocks at 210.8 million bbls were lower than in March and lower than in April 2010, by 4.5% and 4.0% respectively.
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