API: October US petroleum demand up 5.5% month-on-month

Dec. 7, 2020

US petroleum demand, as measured by total domestic petroleum deliveries, was 18.8 million b/d and reflected a 5.5% increase from September but a decrease of 9% compared with October 2019, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s latest monthly statistical report. Consequently, US petroleum demand stood 3.2% below the bottom of the 5-year range in October.

Consumer gasoline demand, measured by motor gasoline deliveries, was 8.5 million b/d in October. This was a decrease of 0.9% (100,000 b/d) from September and 8.9% (800,000 b/d) below the level in October 2019.

In October, distillate deliveries of 3.9 million b/d increased by 5.1% from September but were down by 8.0% y/y (300,000 b/d). This was consistent with DAT iQ industry trendlines that showed spot trucking loads rose in October and spot freight, van and reefer rates have risen heading into the holiday season.

Jet fuel deliveries of 1 million b/d increased by 10.9% m/m in October but remained down by 40.3% versus October 2019. Notably, the increase in jet fuel deliveries did not appear to correspond with higher reported flight activity and passenger demand per Flightradar24 and TSA. However, the increase was consistent with the drawdown in k-jet inventories, which have dropped by 14.8% year-to-date since January and stood at their lowest levels since November 2014.

Deliveries of residual fuel oil, which is used in electric power production, space heating, industrial applications and as a marine bunker fuel, were 250,000 b/d in October. Heading into winter, this marked an increase of 2% m/m but a 21.6% decrease versus October 2019. With relatively weak industrial demand and marine fuel consumption due to IMO 2020, October also represented the 12th straight year-on-year decline in residual fuel oil deliveries.

Deliveries of liquid feedstocks, such as naphtha and gasoil (other oils) used in refining and petrochemical manufacturing, were 5.6 million b/d in October to a record high for the month. This was a 17.5% m/m increase, with a rebound following September’s hurricane-related disruptions to Gulf Coast petrochemical activity.


US crude oil production declined to 10.7 million b/d while NGLs set a record for October.

In October, US crude oil production was 10.7 million b/d, a decrease of 3.7% (400,000 b/d) m/m as increased drilling activity and onshore production was offset by Gulf Coast hurricane season shut-ins of Gulf of Mexico offshore production.

Notably, US crude oil production was sustained above 10 million b/d for a sixth consecutive month despite an oil-directed rig count that remained down by more than 70% versus October 2019.

Specifically, Baker Hughes reported 204 active oil directed rigs in October, down from 708 rigs 1 year ago. However, the 204 rigs reflected an increase from a low point of 181 rigs in July. Rig productivity rose to record levels in most basins according the EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report as producers drilled the most prospective targets employing their best rigs and crews.

Despite natural gas-directed rigs also remaining down significantly, US natural gas marketed production remained solid per EIA, and the extraction of 5.0 million b/d (+0.3% y/y) in natural gas liquids (NGLs) set a record for the month of October and re-enforced strong plant liquids demand with recovering industrial production.

International trade

In October, the US was a petroleum net exporter for the fourth straight month – and for 8 out of the past 10 months this year. The US imported 7.4 million b/d of crude oil and petroleum products in October. This was a 2.7% m/m (200,000 b/d)-decrease from September, driven mainly by lower crude oil imports that fell to 5.1 million b/d – the lowest level for October since 1990.

By contrast, US exports of crude oil and refined products held steady at 7.8 million b/d, implying US petroleum net exports of 400,000 b/d in October. Within the export total, 5.0 million b/d was refined products, which rose by 2.6% m/m, and the remaining 2.8 million b/d was crude oil that fell by 5.8% m/m (200,000 b/d).

Refining, stocks

US refinery throughput of 13.9 million b/d – down by 0.8% m/m with hurricane disruptions and the winter fuels-switching process – implied a capacity utilization rate of 74.9% for October.

US total petroleum inventories, including crude oil and refined products but excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, were 1.44 billion bbl (+0.2% m/m) in October. This was the highest inventory on record for the month of October, though notably, 0.9% below record June levels.

Within the total, crude oil stocks of 485.7 million bbl and distillate stocks of 155.4 million bbl fell by 1.9% m/m and 10.2% m/m, respectively, in October.