API: US oil demand surged in March, first quarter 2011

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 21
-- Despite steadily rising fuel prices in this year’s first quarter, deliveries of crude oil and petroleum products were up sharply from a year ago, according to the latest data from API.

In its monthly statistics report, API reported that total US first-quarter oil deliveries, a measure of demand, climbed by 5.5% from the 2010 first quarter. March deliveries surged by 7.3% to 20.5 million b/d from a year earlier.

In the first quarter, gasoline deliveries were up 4.1%, distillates were up 8%, and ultra-low sulfur distillates were up 12.6% from first-quarter 2010.

Improved labor conditions and modest expansion in the manufacturing sector underscored the increase in deliveries for gasoline and distillate fuel oils during the recent month, API reported, while estimates for petroleum exports for March and this year’s first quarter showed double digit growth from the prior year.

For March, deliveries for gasoline were up 6.1%, while distillate deliveries climbed 11.3%, and ultra-low sulfur distillates were up 21.1% from a year earlier. Jet fuel demand increased for the third month in a row, with deliveries moving higher by 2.2% from a year earlier and by 2.7% from the prior month.

US refinery utilization in March was up from February’s level but slipped to 82.7% from 83.1% a year earlier, API reported, as first-quarter 2011 utilization averaged 81.5%, unchanged from the first quarter of 2010.

Refinery production of gasoline and distillates were higher by 4.9% and 22.1% respectively in March, API said, while product imports continued their year-over-year declines for the third month in a row, down by 19.4% in March.

Total imports of crude oil and products in March were down by 2.5% from a year earlier to 11.3 million b/d, but crude stocks, at 355.5 million bbl, were at their second-highest March level in the past 10 years, only below March 2009, according to the report. March gasoline stocks at 220.7 million bbl, however, were down from a month earlier and lower than during March 2010, API said.

US crude oil production in March increased by 0.3% from a year earlier, although dips in January and February offset this gain to pull first quarter volumes lower by 0.2% compared with the 2010 first quarter. Crude production during March averaged 647,000 b/d in Alaska and 4.9 million b/d in the Lower-48 states.

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