US refiners set gasoline production record during May

A record volume of gasoline, 8.571 million b/d, was produced during May, the American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday. It said the nation's nearly maxed-out refineries put more crude and other petroleum inputs into refinery units than in any previous May, an average of 15.833 million b/d.


By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, June 13 -- A record volume of gasoline, 8.571 million b/d, was produced during May, the American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday.

It said the nation's nearly maxed-out refineries put more crude and other petroleum inputs into refinery units than in any previous May. The 15.833 million b/d of petroleum inputs was one of the four highest amounts in history.

The 1.3% increase compared to May 2000 resulted in a refinery utilization rate of 95.3%, API said. During the last week in May the rate jumped up to 97%, the highest since the summer of 1999.

API said that in the last week of May production of reformulated gasoline (RFG) reached almost 2.9 million b/d, a new record and 4.5% more than in May a year ago.

Nearly 61% of US petroleum needs came from foreign nations during May and the amounts of crude and refined products of 11.805 million b/d were 7.5% higher than a year ago, and the 10th month in a row that imports have increased.

Imported gasoline of 650,000 b/d and residual fuel oil -- used heavily by electricity generating plants -- accounted for 85% of the increase over last year. Crude imports of 9.425 million b/d were 5.8% higher than May last year, API said. As a measure of electric utility fuel-switching and industrial demand, residual fuel oil imports have about doubled since October 2000, when compared to the same previous period.

API said despite the record gasoline production and large product imports, gasoline deliveries -- a measure of consumer demand -- actually only increased less than 1% compared to last May.

"Because demand was weak and supplies bountiful, inventories increased by 9.3 million bbl between April and May to reach 209.3 million bbl. Another factor was the national average retail gasoline price of $1.704/gal, which apparently was high enough to substantially affect the amount of gasoline consumers bought in May."

The last week in May also saw a record of 1,037 rigs drilling for natural gas, a 55% increase over the same period a year ago, according to the Baker-Hughes Corp. rig count. There were only 231 rigs searching for oil deposits.

Domestic crude production of 5.841 million b/d was less than 1% higher than a year ago and Alaskan production jumped 2.1%, the first year-over-year increase since 1996.

API said kerosine jet fuel deliveries fell 2.5% to 1.621 million b/d, distillate deliveries rose 1.8% to 3.703 million b/d, resid deliveries jumped 32.1% to 860,000 b/d, and deliveries of other products dropped 3.1% to 4.785 million b/d.

May imports were 11.805 million b/d, 7.5% above a year ago. For the first 5 months they are up 11.9%, compared with the same period a year ago.

Crude oil stocks ended the month at 325.4 million bbl, 8.6% higher than last May.

Kerosine jet fuel inventories were down less than 1% at 41.7 million bbl, but up 4% in the past month. Distillate stocks rose 1.7% to 107.2 million bbl and resid stocks jumped 15.2% to 42.7 million bbl. Total stocks were 962 million bbl, up less than 1% over last year and up 2.3% from a year ago.

More in Refining