U.S. refineries produced more gasoline this March – at 9.3 million barrels per day – than any previous month on record. March gasoline deliveries (a measure of demand) were higher – at 9.2 million barrels per day – than any previous March. The highest amount of gasoline ever delivered was 9.6 million barrels per day in July 2007. Total March deliveries of all products, including gasoline, distillate, kerosine-jet fuel, and residual fuel, rose 3.5 percent from a year ago.
“U.S. refineries are doing yeoman’s work meeting consumer demand,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “Moreover, the record gasoline production in March makes it abundantly clear that supply is not an issue with the higher gasoline prices we’ve seen. Sharply higher crude oil prices are driving that, and they continue to put upward pressure on the price at the pump.”
U.S. distillate production in March was up 5.3 percent from February, yet still 3.8 percent lower than March 2009 levels. Distillate deliveries in March were 0.8 percent below the same month a year ago. That decrease was substantially less than the year-to-year monthly declines of 6.0 percent in February 2010 and 12.2 percent in January 2010. Distillate deliveries correlate closely with overall U.S. economic activity.
Domestic crude oil production in March 2010 hit 5.5 million barrels per day for the second month in a row, up 1.1 percent from March 2009 (and slightly up from February 2010). Baker-Hughes reported the U.S. rig count for March at 1,419, a hike of 69 from 1,350 in February of this year and 314 from 1,105 in March of 2009. Louisiana, North Dakota and Kansas saw the largest oil production increases in March over February.
Total imports of crude oil and products fell in March compared with the same month a year ago. Crude oil imports slipped 1.2 percent; product imports fell 31.0 percent.
Except for March last year, crude oil stocks at 352.8 million barrels were the highest for any March since 1990. Total gasoline inventories fell for the first time in five months to 220.7 million barrels; stocks of ultra-low sulfur diesel, which is primarily used in trucks, declined 4.1 percent from February but were 4.8 percent up from March a year ago; and jet fuel inventories fell this March for the second month in a row.