API: US oil demand weakened in July

US oil demand in July contracted by 2.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest monthly statistics from the American Petroleum Institute.

API reported that gasoline demand fell by 3.8% from July 2011 and by 2.2% from June. Averaging 8.624 million b/d, US gasoline demand reached its lowest level for July since 1997. Demand for most other major products also declined, but demand for distillates, which increased by 4.9%, was driven by strong ultralow-sulfur diesel deliveries.

Demand for all products totaled 18.062 million b/d, and US exports were 3.244 million b/d, up 11.1% from a year earlier. Imports declined by 9.6% to 10.426 million b/d.

At 6.225 million b/d, crude oil production remained strong and was up from the prior month, prior year, and prior year to date, and it was the highest level of US production for any July since 1998, according to the report.

API said refinery utilization climbed to 92.7% last month vs. 91% in July 2011.

Crude oil stocks were up 5.1% from last year but down 4.3% from June to end in July at 365.8 million bbl. Stocks of all major products were down from last year’s levels. Gasoline and distillate stocks were both up in July compared with the month before, API reported.

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