U.S. petroleum demand down 2 percent for the year

sunset drilling

Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) were down 2.0 percent for 2012 compared with 2011 – and were at the lowest annual level in 16 years. They also were down 2.1 percent in December against a year ago. Year over year declines were seen in all months in 2012 except for May.

Gasoline and distillate deliveries were also down for the year compared with 2011, gasoline by 0.4 percent and distillates by 4.0 percent. Kerosine-jet fuel demand was down by 1.7 percent, hitting a three-year low. Residual fuel oil demand fell by 22.1 percent to the lowest level on record. Demand for other oils slipped 1.6 percent from 2011.

“The year was a story of contrasts. U.S. product demand weakened across the board, while domestic production of crude oil surged,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “The production bright spot reflects an industry investing and hiring at high rates, which significantly contributed to rising U.S. employment. Yet, demand was worse in 2012 than when the economy bottomed out in the recession.”

Inputs to crude distillation units rose slightly by 0.3 from the prior year to 15.3 million barrels per day, which was the highest in eight years. Production of all major refined products – gasoline, distillates, jet fuel, and residual fuels – was higher than demand, so products were exported, with an overall increase of 4.6 percent compared with 2011. Gasoline production fell from the prior month, the prior year, and the prior year to date, with a decline of 2.0 percent (to 8.9 million barrels per day) in 2012 compared with 2011. Distillate fuel production reached a record high for the 2012.

In 2012, total imports were at their lowest level in 15 years, since 1997. Total imports averaged 10.5 million barrels per day. Crude oil imports and product imports were both also at their lowest levels in 15 years.

The refinery utilization rate for 2012 averaged 89.0 percent and reached 90.8 percent in December, both numbers up significantly from the year before. Refinery operable capacity was 17.398 million barrels per day in December.

Total U.S. crude oil production was up from the prior month, prior fourth quarter, prior year, and prior year to date. Domestic crude oil production for 2012 averaged 6.4 million barrels per day, a 15-year high and an increase of 13.8 percent from 2011 levels – the largest annual increase since 1859.

The number of oil and gas rigs decreased from 1,809 in November to 1,784 in December, according to the latest reports from Baker-Hughes, Inc., and has stayed below 2,000 every month in 2012. However, the average number of oil and gas rigs in the U.S. for 2012 reached a record number of 1,919, up by 2.3 percent from 2011’s rig count of 1,875.

Crude oil stocks ended December at 359.8 million barrels per day, a 31-year high for the month. They averaged 8.7 percent above 2011 for the year. Gasoline stocks were up slightly, just 0.2 percent, to 223.7 million barrels in 2012 compared with 2011 and were up 8.1 percent in December 2012 compared with the month before.

API is a national trade association that represents all segments of America’s technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 500 members – including large integrated companies, exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms – provide most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers $86 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested over $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

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