Release of US strategic reserve crude reduced imports

The American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday that November US oil imports were at their lowest level since last February because the federal government released 600,000 b/d from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

It said crude imports averaged 8.34 million b/d in November, compared with 8.94 million b/d for the year to date through October.

Product imports remained high at nearly 2.3 million b/d, so total crude and products imports still rose by 6% from November 1999.

API, in its monthly statistical report, said total deliveries jumped more than 4% in November to 19.9 million b/d compared with a year ago. Increases for all the major products contributed to the 775,000 b/d increase.

Gasoline deliveries continued to grow at about the same rate as in recent months, while growth for distillate deliveries slowed to less than 4%, despite weather substantially colder than a year ago. Kerosine jet fuel deliveries jumped over 7% and residual fuel oil deliveries continued to benefit from the fact electric utilities and industrial users were switching from gas due to sharply higher prices.

Refinery inputs reached a record in November, rising 2.2% from a year earlier. Strong emphasis on distillate production led to an increase for that product of 5.5% to 3.8 million b/d, compared with year-earlier levels, and set a record for November.

Production of the other major products also rose. Gasoline output also surpassed any previous November level, while residual fuel oil production achieved its highest level for any month in nearly 2 years. It was up 32% at 791,000 b/d.

Following a smaller rise in October, crude oil inventories gained another 6 million bbl in November. Still, they remained the lowest for the month since the 1970s as market uncertainties made the holding of inventory beyond current needs risky.

Distillate inventories rose 5 million bbl during November to surpass the 120 million bbl mark for the first time this year. They still remained slightly below the range of the previous 5 Novembers, during which distillate inventories have ended the month between 122 and 155 million bbl.

Gasoline inventories erased a large portion of their previous month's decline during November, building by 7 million bbl to close the month at 197 million.

Domestic crude production declined in November to 5.9 million b/d, down 1.8% from November 1999. Declines were noted for both the Lower 48 states and Alaska.

In Alaska, Alpine field came on stream in mid-month, reportedly adding 35,000 to 40,000 b/d to production there. However, Alaskan output still fell more than 6%.

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