Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flat demand, rising imports, output helps rebuild gasoline stocks-AP

WASHINGTON – Relatively weak U.S. gasoline deliveries, a proxy for demand, combined with record high domestic production and rising imports to help replenish U.S. gasoline inventories in May though they remain below year-ago levels, API data show.

In its Monthly Statistical Report covering May 2007, API noted that gasoline inventories ended the month nearly 10 million barrels above end-April levels but were still 2.7 percent below year-ago levels after several months of low import levels and record demand.

“Although gasoline demand growth has slowed markedly with recent higher prices, year-to-date it’s still the highest ever,” said Ron Planting, API’s manager of statistical information and analysis.

Overall U.S. oil demand, as expressed by total domestic petroleum deliveries, were flat compared with a year-ago as a 1.4 percent gain in distillate fuel oil demand and a double-digit rise in residual fuel oil deliveries were offset by a large decline in jet fuel deliveries and slightly lower gasoline deliveries.

Gasoline production rose above 9.0 million barrels per day for the first time since December, rising 375,000 barrels per day from April to nearly 9.2 million barrels per day. Total inputs to crude distillation units, an overall measure of refinery activity, rose for a fourth straight month. Many refineries finished up scheduled maintenance and the annual switch to summer-blend fuels and others recovered from unexpected production problems. In May, refinery utilization averaged 89.2 percent, up from 88.1 percent in April and 86.5 percent in March.

Total petroleum imports in May averaged more than 13.6 million barrels per day, up 2.2 percent from April, as gasoline imports, including blending components, alone rose 16.1 percent from April levels to average more than 1.3 million barrels per day, the third highest monthly level ever.

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