API: US gasoline production broke record in March

US refineries produced more gasoline in March—an average 9.3 million b/d—than any previous month on record, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 16 -- US refineries produced more gasoline in March—an average 9.3 million b/d—than any previous month on record, the American Petroleum Institute said. Gasoline deliveries, which is how API measures demand, averaged 9.2 million b/d, more than any previous March, it added.

“US refineries are doing yeoman’s work meeting consumer demand,” API Chief Economist John Felmy said. “Moreover, the record gasoline production in March makes it abundantly clear that supply is not an issue with the higher gasoline prices we’ve seen. Sharply higher crude oil prices are driving that, and they continue to put upward pressure on the price at the pump.”

Gasoline inventories, which totaled 220.7 million bbl at the end of March, were 2.1% higher than a year earlier, according to API’s latest monthly statistical report. Oil product prices have climbed nevertheless because oil costs have increased, Felmy told reporters during an Apr. 16 teleconference. “As of this point, we’ve seen crude prices go up 34¢/gal and gasoline prices 25¢/gal from mid-February,” he said.

Demand for other refined products was mixed in March, API said. Jet kerosene deliveries climbed 0.5% year-to-year to an average 1.4 million b/d. Distillate deliveries declined 0.8% to an average 3.7 million b/d from March 2009’s average while those of residual fuel fell 1.8% to an average 594,000 b/d during the same period. Total product deliveries rose 3.5% to an average 19.3 million b/d in March from 18.7 million b/d a year earlier.

US oil production, meanwhile, was an average 5.5 million b/d for a second consecutive month in March, API’s figures showed. The 1.1% improvement from March 2009 was confined to the Lower 48 states, where production climbed 1.7% to an average 4.8 million b/d from 4.7 million b/d a year earlier. Production in Alaska declined 3% to an average 688,000 b/d from March 2009’s average 709,000 b/d.

“The Bakken formation has been a marvelous change. We’ve seen North Dakota climb to fourth in the nation in terms of production,” Felmy said. Gulf of Mexico production also continues to grow, he continued. “We have a vast amount of oil in this country,” he observed.

Oil imports fell 1.2% from March 2009’s average 9.2 million b/d to an average 9.1 million b/d this past month, despite a 10.3% year-to-year increase in imports from Canada to an average 2 million b/d, API said. “That comes from continuing oil sands development there,” Felmy told OGJ following the teleconference, adding that it reflects domestic refiners’ growing reliance on that feedstock source, particularly along the US Northern Tier. US crude inventories at the end of March, meanwhile, totaled 352.8 million bbl, 3.6% less than the 366.8 million bbl of inventories at the end of March 2009, API’s statistics showed.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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