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March petroleum demand edges up (includes monthly statistical report)

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 – Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) were up 0.6 for March against the same month a year ago to average 18.3 million barrels per day – yet were still at the second lowest March level in 16 years (since 1997). For the first quarter of this year, U.S. petroleum deliveries were down by 0.4 percent.

“Tepid growth and high unemployment are still burdening the economy and holding demand down,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “The recovery is a sputtering engine with a cylinder or two still not firing.”

At an average of 8.4 million barrels per day, gasoline deliveries were down from March a year ago by 2.3 percent to their lowest level in 13 years and down from the prior first quarter by 1.7 percent. Distillate deliveries increased by 5.0 percent in March, while jet fuel deliveries were down 2.6 percent. Demand for both residual fuel oil and other oils increased in March, by 7.2 percent and 6.7 percent respectively.

Refinery gross inputs remained below 15.0 million barrels per day for the first three months of 2013, but were up in March from March a year ago by 0.4 percent to 14.9 million barrels per day. Production of all major refined products – gasoline, distillates, jet fuel, and residual fuels – was higher than demand, so products were exported, increasing by 1.2 percent this March from March a year ago to 3.1 million barrels per day. Gasoline production was down by 0.9 percent to 8.7 million barrels per day, the lowest March output in five years. Distillate fuel production at 4.3 million barrels per day rose to its second highest March level.

Total U.S. crude oil production at 7.1 million barrels per day was up from March a year ago by 13.8 percent and up for the first quarter by 14.1 percent compared with the first quarter 2012. This was the highest March output in 21 years.

Crude oil stocks reached a record inventory level for March, ending at 387.9 million barrels per day. Crude stocks were up 2.3 percent from the prior month, and up 5.4 percent from the prior year. In March, motor gasoline stocks at 221.2 million barrels ended down by 3.9 percent from the prior month, February 2013, but were up 1.1 percent from year ago levels. Distillate fuel stocks ended at a five-year low, down 14.2 percent to 114.8 million barrels from year ago levels.

In March, total imports were at 10.0 million barrels per day, their lowest level in 15 years (since 1998) and down by 5.3 percent from March 2012. First-quarter total imports were 6.5 percent down from the first quarter a year ago. With increased crude production and record inventory levels, crude oil imports in March were also at their lowest level in 15 years, falling by 7.2 percent from the prior year to 8.1 million barrels per day. Compared with the same period from a year ago, refined product imports rose by 3.5 percent for March to 1.9 million barrels per day but fell by 1.1 percent for the first quarter.

The refinery utilization rate averaged 83.9 percent for March 2013, up 0.1 percent from the prior month but down 2.0 percent from March 2012. API’s latest refinery operable capacity was 17.718 million barrels per day.

The number of oil and gas rigs decreased from 1,762 in February to 1,756 in March, according to the latest reports from Baker-Hughes, Inc., and has stayed below 2,000 for 15 straight months.

API is a national trade association that represents all segments of America’s technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 500 members – including large integrated companies, exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms – provide most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers $85 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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