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Petroleum demand slips further in July

WASHINGTON, August 17, 2012 – Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) fell 2.7 percent in July to just above 18 million barrels per day. This is the lowest July level since 1995 and the lowest level for any month since September 2008. Total petroleum demand for the year to date was down 2.3 percent.

    Gasoline demand fell more, down 2.2 percent from June and down 3.8 percent from July a year ago to the lowest July level since 1997. Demand for other major products also declined except distillates, which increased 4.9 percent, driven by strong ultra-low sulfur diesel deliveries.

    “While retail sales for July are up and housing has improved, the weak petroleum demand numbers are a strong indication the economy is still faltering,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “Unfortunately, achieving robust growth will likely continue to be an uphill climb given the nation’s fiscal challenges, business uncertainty, and a European economy in jeopardy of sliding back into recession.”

    Despite weakening petroleum demand, refinery production remained strong. At nine million barrels per day, gasoline production reached its third highest July level. Distillate production at nearly 4.8 million barrels per day was at a record high for any July and the third highest monthly level ever. Year-to-date distillate production also set a record. Total refinery inputs grew by 2.3 percent in July to the highest level this year.

    Production of all four major products – gasoline, distillate, jet fuel and residual fuels – was greater than demand for those products. As a result, petroleum imports decreased and exports increased. Total imports of crude and refined products fell by 9.6 percent to average 10.4 million barrels per day in July. Exports of refined products increased to a record high for July, and year-to-date exports were up 14 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

    Refinery utilization rose to 92.7 percent in July, the second month in a row above 90.0 percent.

    Crude oil production remained strong and was up from the prior month, prior year and prior year to date. At 6.225 million barrels per day, it was the highest level of domestic production for any July since 1998.

    The number of oil and gas rigs decreased from 1,972 in June to 1,944 in July, according to the latest reports from Baker-Hughes, Inc., and has stayed under 2,000 for all of 2012.

    Crude oil stocks were up 5.1 percent from last year, but down 4.3 percent from June levels to end in July at 365.8 million barrels. Stocks of all major products were down from last year’s levels. Gasoline and distillate stocks were both up in July compared with the month before.

    API represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America’s energy, supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers more than $86 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested over $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

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