API: US petroleum demand up in December, oil production highest since 1972

Total US petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, increased 5.1% last month from December 2013 to average nearly 20 million b/d, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s monthly statistics for December 2014. For the fourth quarter, total US petroleum deliveries gained 2.9% compared with the same period in 2013.

Gasoline demand last month rose by 5.4% from the prior year to average more than 9.1 million b/d, the highest December level since 2007. Deliveries of residual fuel jumped 71.8% from the prior year to their highest December level in 3 years. Demand also increased for distillate, jet fuel, and other oils.

“Even with a noticeable rise in demand, crude stocks ended higher last month than in any other December in the last 84 years,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “Historically high production continues to be the driving factor.”

Crude oil stocks rose 7.4% from last year to end at 383.5 million bbl—the highest inventory level for the month since 1930. Stocks of motor gasoline also ended higher last month, up by 0.4% from December 2013 levels to 228.9 million bbl. Stocks of distillate fuel and other oils increased from the prior year while jet fuel stocks fell slightly.

US crude oil production last month rose to its highest December output since 1972, averaging more than 9.1 million b/d, a 15.9% increase from the previous year. This was also the highest output for any month since February 1986. Natural gas liquids production reached an all-time record high at nearly 3.2 million b/d, up 19.4% from December 2013.

The latest reports from Baker Hughes Inc. stated that the number of oil and gas rigs in the US in December was 1,882, down by 43 from November’s count of 1,925. This was the lowest count since July 2014.

Total US imports last month averaged nearly 9.7 million b/d, the highest level in 2014. This was a 1.3% increase over the prior year but remained the third lowest December import levels since 1997. Meanwhile crude oil imports were down by 1.6% from December 2013. Imports of refined products gained 14.3% over the same period to 2 million b/d but remained the second lowest imports level for the month since 1999.

Refinery gross inputs were up by 1.9% from December 2013 to their highest level for the month at 16.7 million b/d while exports of refined petroleum products fell by 8.1%.

The refinery capacity utilization rate averaged 93.7% last month, up 2.3 percentage points from November and 1.8 percentage points higher than the same period last year. API’s latest refinery operable capacity was 17.805 million b/d.

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