API: Petroleum demand dips in February

Total US petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, fell 0.6% from February 2013 to average 18.5 million b/d last month, a 16-year low for the month since 1998, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s most recent monthly statistics report.

“Cold weather tends to have a dampening effect on the economy, which helped reduce demand for many types of fuel in February,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “Of course, low temperatures have the opposite effect on demand for propane and heating oil.”

Demand for gasoline last month fell 0.2% from a year ago, but gained 1.1% from January to average close to 8.4 million b/d, marking the lowest February level in 13 years. Demands for residual fuel, distillate, and jet fuel also fell.

“Although overall deliveries of distillate were down last month, demand for high-sulfur distillate fuel oil, which is used almost exclusively for heating in the residential and commercial sectors, rose 18.1% from the prior year,” API added.

Driven by strong propane demand, February demand for “other oils” registered a year-on-year increase of 6.1%. Other oils—which include liquid petrochemical feedstocks, naphtha, gas oil, and propane—account for 25.8% of total petroleum deliveries.

Crude production in February rose 12.5% from its 2013 level, but was down slightly, 0.8%, from January. According to Baker Hughes Inc., the number of oil and gas rigs in the US in February was 1,769, the same as January’s count.

Production of gasoline and distillate both hit record highs for the month of February, averaging 9.1 million b/d and 4.7 million b/d, respectively.

Total imports in February averaged 9 million b/d, down 2.3% from year ago. Crude oil imports rose 1.7% from February 2013 to 7.4 million b/d, while imports of refined products for the month fell 17.2% to 1.6 million b/d—the lowest February level since 1991. Exports of refined products increased 24.2% from February 2013 to 4 million b/d, marking the second-highest level on record.

“The refinery capacity utilization rate averaged 87.1% in February, down 1.5 percentage points from January but 5.4% higher than the same period last year,” API said. The latest refinery operable capacity was 17.816 million b/d.

Crude oil stocks ended last month at 364.8 million bbl, down 5.2% from 2013 level, but remaining the second-highest February inventory level in 31 years. Stocks of motor gasoline were up 0.2% from last year while distillate fuel and jet fuel stocks were down 6.7% and 7.9% from the prior year, respectively. Stocks of other oils were also down from year ago levels.

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