US petroleum demand in July weakens for first time this year; motor gasoline at July low for past decade
Total petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) fell in July by half a percent compared with July a year ago—the first time deliveries dipped for any month this year, according to figures form the American Petroleum Institute (API). Motor gasoline demand reached a low for any July over the past decade. However, distillate deliveries were strongly higher in July by 10.9% over July 2010, led by a 15.1% increase in ultra low sulfur distillate deliveries. Also, deliveries of jet fuel were at a three-year high for the month.
The numbers, though mixed, confirm continuing weakness in the economy. Consumers aren’t spending, and jobless claims have increased, so it isn’t surprising gasoline demand was down and overall demand slipped a bit.—API chief economist John Felmy
US refinery gasoline production fell for the first time this year, down by 2.3% from July a year ago. However, gasoline production remained at a record level on a year-to-date basis. Refinery inputs were down in July for the sixth month in a row.
Total imports of petroleum products were down for the month of July from last year by 14.7% to a 14-year low. Crude imports also fell substantially. Canadian imports of crude oil increased 1.3% to 2.1 million barrels per day.
Crude oil production fell to a three-year low for the month, slipping to its lowest level in 2011. Production in the lower-48 states was down slightly in July while Alaskan production plunged 13.2% as a result of a planned maintenance shutdown of the trans-Alaska pipeline in the middle of the month. According to Baker Hughes Inc., oil and gas rigs reached a three-year high to 1,900.
With a decline in crude oil imports and an increase in crude oil refinery inputs, compared with the prior year, crude oil stocks showed year-over-year declines for the second time this year, falling by 1.5% from this June and 1.7% from July 2010. This stock level was still the second highest for any July since 1990, after July 2010. Gasoline, distillate fuel and jet fuel stocks decreased over July a year ago.