By the OGJ Online Staff
WASHINGTON, May 16 -- Refinery operations and gasoline production set records for the month of April, the American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday.
It reported 15.6 million b/d of mostly crude oil was processed, nearly 2% more than April a year ago. The national capacity utilization rate was 93.8%; the highest since last September.
Gasoline production of 8.365 million b/d was 3.4% higher than a year ago and 7.7% higher than in March. Production of California's special blend was up sharply over last year, but Midwestern reformulated gasoline (RFG) was 9% below a year ago. Refinery fires in Illinois and California had little impact on gasoline production for the month as a whole, according to the API report.
Imported gasoline and blending components of 684,000 b/d was 20% higher than April 2000. Imported crude oil averaged 9.6 million b/d, 6% higher than a year ago.
Gasoline deliveries, an important measure of demand, at 8.394 million b/d were 2% higher than a year ago and 2.4% higher when comparing the first 4 months of each year.
API said the relative weakness in gasoline deliveries may be partly due to retail gasoline prices, which rose sharply during the month.
Previously tight crude oil inventories grew to 321.8 million bbl, a 6.2% increase compared to a year ago and the highest level since 1999.
Gasoline stocks also increased to 199.3 million bbl, 4% less than a year ago, and "near the bottom of their historical range for this time of year."
National RFG stocks totaled 39.5 million bbl, almost 10% less than April 2000. API said, "Making RFG remains difficult due to federal oxygenate requirements, which are outdated because of technological advances in cleaner-burning gasoline manufacture and better auto emission controls on cars."
It said US crude production of 5.886 million b/d was 2% higher than a year ago, with Alaska 0.4% lower at 1.004 million b/d.
It said April kerosine jet fuel deliveries were down 2.2% at 1.617 million b/d, distillate distillate was up 8.8% at 3.752 million b/d, and residual fuel oil deliveries of 945,000 b/d were up 32.5%, largely because of industrial and utility fuel switching.
API said total imports of crude and products were 12.001 million b/d, 8.2% higher than April a year ago.