US import levels of crude and products in 2009 lagged prior year levels, with full-year 2009 imports of 11.7 million barrels per day, down 9.2%, according to figures from the American Petroleum Institute (API). For full-year 2009, crude oil production was up 7% over the prior year, averaging 5.3 million barrels per day.
December 2009 imports of 10.7 million barrels per day were down 15% year-on-year and fourth quarter imports of 10.9 million barrels per day were down 15.4%.
Total petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) for December inched up 0.6% from December 2008, reflecting an improved economy and possibly increased demand from colder weather. December deliveries, which averaged 19.3 million barrels per day, outpaced both four-quarter average deliveries of 19.0 million barrels per day and full-year average deliveries of 18.7 million barrels per day.
Gasoline deliveries followed a similar pattern, with December deliveries, at an average 9.1 million barrels per day, rising 2.3% from December 2008. Gasoline deliveries also were up 1.1% for the fourth quarter, and up 0.3% for full-year 2009.
Clearly, petroleum demand is mirroring the economic recovery. We are seeing December demand figures stronger than fourth quarter figures and fourth quarter figures stronger than full-year figures. But the data also indicates that the recovery still has a distance to go, particularly if you look at ultra-low sulfur diesel.
—API Chief Economist John Felmy
Deliveries of ultra-low sulfur diesel, the type required for on-highway use, were down 11% in December 2009, compared with December 2008.