US refineries set distillate production record

US oil refineries produced record volumes of distillate fuel for the second month running, with output averaging 3.76 million b/d, up 8% on September 1999, the American Petroleum Institute (API) stated today in its monthly statistical report.

According to the API, September's "strong" response to a 9.8% jump in demand drove up third quarter production to 3.7 million b/d, 5.4% higher than a year ago. The month's deliveries, a key measure of demand, contributed to the highest quarterly growth rate�5.1%�in 12 years.

The API's monthly statistical report recorded that deliveries of high-sulfur distillate surged by 18.5% during September and 10% during the third quarter.

The overall refinery utilization rate in the US slipped to 94.7% over the month, but was still fractionally higher than the 94.1% rate a year ago. Some 15.7 million b/d was pumped into refineries, a 2.1% hike on September 1999.

Production of gasoline, kerosine jet fuel, and residual oil were all up on last September, to 8.3 million b/d, 1.6 million b/d, and 762,000 b/d, respectively.

Domestic crude oil output totaled 5.8 million b/d, a drop of 0.7% on last year, while Alaska's production fell 3.6% to 899,000 b/d.

According to the API's quarterly well completion report, the number of wells completed leapt by 59% in the third quarter, as compared to the same period last year, with natural gas completions�3,787�at their highest level for any quarter in 15 years.

US crude imports rose some 7.2% to 9.14 million b/d year-on-year, while oil stocks were down by the end of September to 286.6 million bbl, a fall of 5.6%. Distillate inventories, on the other hand, grew in the third quarter�though by only 9.2 million bbl. These stocks had risen an average of 17 million bbl over this period for the last 5 years.

Natural gas liquids production was 0.5% up on last September, at 1.93 million b/d.

While gasoline stocks at the end of September had fallen to 201.9 billion bbl, a drop of 2.5%, inventories of all other oils stood at 213.4 million bbl, a 3.7% increase year-on-year. Total domestic stocks, according to the API, were down at 986.7 million bbl, a fall of 5.2% compared to last September, but up 0.4% on August.

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