API: US December petroleum demand highest in 5 years

Total US petroleum deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, averaged 19.7 million b/d in December, a 1.1% increase over December 2014, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s latest Monthly Statistical Report. The level reached was the highest December total in 5 years.

“Low prices have helped drive demand for oil and gasoline over the last year,” said API Chief Economist Erica Bowman. “In fact, demand for gasoline last month was the highest December in 8 years.”

In December, total motor gasoline deliveries rose 2% from a year ago to average just above 9.1 million b/d. Distillate deliveries decreased 12.7% compared with December 2014 to average 3.6 million b/d.

US crude oil production in December averaged just below 9.3 million b/d, down 1.4% compared with December 2014. December crude oil output remains the second highest output level for the month of December in 43 years, since 1972. Natural gas liquids production averaged nearly 3.4 million b/d—6.5% higher than year ago levels and the highest production for the month on December on record.

Total petroleum imports increased from the prior year, rising 0.9%, but remain the second-lowest imports for December since 1997, averaging nearly 9.5 million b/d. Meanwhile, crude oil imports were up 4.6% compared with the prior year to 7.6 million b/d.

US gross refinery inputs fell 0.1% from December 2014. At 4.7 million b/d, exports of refined products were down 3.2% from December 2014.

The refinery capacity utilization rate averaged 92.4% in December, 1.6 percentage points lower than year ago levels. API’s latest refinery operable capacity was 18.125 million b/d, up 1.8% from last year’s capacity of 17.811 million b/d.

Crude oil stocks reached their highest inventory level for the month of December since 1930. At nearly 484 million bbl, crude stocks were up 23% or 90.6 million bbl higher than December 2014.

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