API: Strong US gasoline demand continued in March

Total US petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, gained 0.4% in March from the same period last year to average 19.3 million b/d, the American Petroleum Institute said. These were the highest March deliveries since 2008.

Gasoline demand rose 2.2% from the same time last year. Distillate deliveries in March fell 11.3% to average just below 3.6 million b/d, API said.

“Historically low gasoline prices continued to drive strong demand for gasoline in March,” said Erica Bowman, API chief economist. “In fact, demand for gasoline in March was the highest ever recorded for the month.”

At just below 9 million b/d, US crude oil production decreased 6.8% from March 2015 but remained the second-highest March production level since 1986. Natural gas liquids production in March averaged nearly 3.4 million b/d—the highest level for the month on record.

US total petroleum imports in March averaged nearly 10 million b/d, the highest total petroleum imports level for any month since September 2013.

Gasoline production averaged 9.7 million b/d, which was up 1.6% from March 2015 and the highest ever for the month. Production of distillate fuel in March fell 1.2% from year ago levels to average 4.8 million b/d but remained the second highest March output level on record.

Refinery gross inputs rose 2.8% from last year to a record high for the month at 16.3 million b/d. Exports of refined products were up from the prior year. The refinery capacity utilization rate averaged 89.5% in March. API’s latest refinery operable capacity was 18.125 million b/d, up 341,000 b/d from last year’s capacity.

Crude oil stocks ended March at 530.1 million bbl, the highest inventory level for the month since 1930. Crude stocks rose by 55.3 million bbl, or 11.6% from the prior year. Stocks of total motor gasoline rose 5.4% from last year to 243.9 million bbl in March, the highest stocks for the month in 34 years. Distillate fuel oil stocks rose 27.9% from the same period last year to end at 164.1 million bbl—the highest March inventory level since 1981. Jet fuel stocks rose 18.8% from the prior year to end at 44.2 million bbl. Stocks of “other oils” also rose from year ago levels.

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