By DAVID BIRD
NEW YORK -- US oil demand fell 3.8% in September from a year earlier, to 18.2 million bpd, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said Friday.
The trade group said total petroleum deliveries in the month, a proxy for demand, were the second lowest for the month since 1996. Demand was down 2.1% from August.
Demand in the first nine months of the year was 2.4% below the same period in 2011, at 18.505 million bpd.
"The September demand numbers indicate there's still substantial weakness in the economy," said John Felmy, API chief economist, in a statement. "While manufacturing and employment have improved some, we've yet to see strong momentum developing."
Demand for gasoline, the most widely used petroleum product for the world's biggest oil consumer, dropped 2% from a year earlier, to 8.572 million bpd. Nine-month average demand of 8.73 million bpd was down 0.7% from the same time in 2011.
September demand for distillate fuel (heating oil/diesel) was 4% below the year-earlier level, at 3.777 million bpd, and was down 3.3% in the first three quarters of the year, to 3.869 million bpd.
Within the distillate figure, demand for ultra-low sulfur diesel was 3.492 million bpd in September, up 2.9% from a year ago. Year-to-date diesel demand was down 0.8%, at 3.43 million bpd.
Jet fuel use was 3.4% higher in September versus a year earlier, at 1.464 million bpd, but was down by 1.7% year-to-date.
Crude oil inputs to refineries in the month averaged 14.721 million bpd, off 3.6% from a year earlier.
Imports of crude oil fell by 1.1% to average just over 8.8 million bpd in September.
Crude oil production was 12.8% above year-ago levels, at 6.295 million bpd, the highest level in the month since 1997. Output from shale oil fields pushed North Dakota crude oil production above 700,000 bpd for the second consecutive month.
Alaska production in September rose by 28.6% from August to 526,000 bpd, offsetting some of the year-to-date slide, but was down 10.1% from a year earlier.
Crude oil stocks were up 9.7% in September a year ago and were 1.5% higher than in August, at 364.1 million bbl. Stocks of all major products were down from last year's levels, with gasoline inventories down 7% in September and down 0.7% from August.
Dow Jones Newswires