API says winter storms depressed US petroleum demand in January

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 18--US petroleum demand fell to its second lowest January level in 10 years last month as harsh winter storms kept most people home across the country, the American Petroleum Institute said in its latest monthly statistical report.

Seasonal heating oil demand soared by more than 40% year-to-year, but gasoline demand was weak, although slightly higher than a year earlier, it indicated.

“The show and cold kept people at home this January, and many roads and highways were impassable,” said John C. Felmy, API’s chief economist. “That’s a big part of what you’re seeing in the demand numbers.”

Total demand, which API measures in product deliveries, averaged 18.8 million b/d. The January 2011 demand was the second lowest in 10 years for the month. The January 2011 demand figure was 1.7% higher than January 2010’s 18.5 million b/d average—which was the 10-year low for the month, the statistics showed.

Gasoline deliveries increased 0.9% year-to-year to an average 8.6 million b/d, while ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel deliveries rose 3.2% to 3.1 million b/d and jet kerosene deliveries climbed 4.6% to 1.4 million b/d. Heating oil deliveries, meanwhile, jumped 40.6% from their January 2010 total to 882,000 b/d, while residual fuel oil demand fell 14.7% to 531,000 b/d.

Refiners nevertheless produced more gasoline, distillate, and jet fuel in January despite the demand dip, according to API. It said that gasoline production grew 4.9% year-to-year to 9 million b/d, a record for the month, while distillate production climbed 28.1% to nearly 4.6 million b/d and jet fuel production rose 14.5% to 1.5 million b/d. Inventories finished the month higher for gasoline and lower for distillate and jet fuel than a yearly, API’s numbers showed.

Crude oil and condensate production, meanwhile, fell 3.7% year-to-year to 5.2 million b/d as natural gas liquids production rose 7.3% to nearly 2.1 million b/d. Crude oil imports grew 13.1% from January 2010’s level to 9.6 million b/d, with shipments from Canada rising 8.2% to 2 million b/d. Product imports dropped 25.5% to 2.1 million b/d during the same period, API said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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