US distillate output at record in August


Washington, DC�The latest statistics report by the American Petroleum Institute revealed increases in almost all production, delivery, and inventory categories in August, with the exception of US crude production, which fell for the month.

US production of distillate, used for home heating oil and diesel fuel, was a record 3.707 million b/d in August. The previous US record was set during the bitter winter of 1977.

API said August distillate output was 8.4% higher than a year ago, and roughly equaled August deliveries of 3.740 million b/d, an 8.8% increase over last year.

Deliveries of high-sulfur distillate used for residential and commercial heating increased 22% to 1.104 million b/d. API attributed that to heating oil dealers and electric utilities stocking up for the winter.

"While distillate stocks increased by 1 million bbl from July to August, total inventories of 112.9 million bbl of the fuel were still 20% lower than last August," said API. "These stocks have grown at a slower rate than usual."

However, API said current inventories are about 30 million bbl above the operating level that the National Petroleum Council has estimated the distribution system needs in order to operate smoothly.

The US refinery utilization rate was a 95.9% in August. Gasoline production of 8.282 million b/d was 1.2% higher, and deliveries were up 1.6% at 8.712 million b/d. API noted that US gasoline prices have been dropping at the pump.

US crude production was down 0.2% at 5.767 million b/d. For the eighth time in the last 9 months, production in the Lower 48 states (4.854 million b/d) exceeded year-ago levels. Alaskan production fell 9.7% to 913,000 b/d last month.

Natural gas liquids production was up 3.4% at 1.937 million b/d.

Crude oil imports were 4.1% higher at 9.271 million b/d and set a record for August. Together with imported refined products of 11.310 million b/d, they represented 56% of US consumption (down from 60% earlier in the year).

Crude oil stocks were down 8.3% at 289.1 million.

API said oil extraction employment rose 2,400 jobs in August to 311,700, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gain so far this year has been 19,400 jobs.

Active drilling rigs exceeded 1,000 for the first time since early 1998, with natural gas rigs holding a 4-to-1 margin over oil, according to a Baker Hughes Inc. survey.

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