US oil demand lowest for October since 1995 – API

US oil demand dropped 2.3% from October a year ago and was the lowest for any October since 1995, according to monthly figures from the American Petroleum Institute (API) trade group released on Friday.

October deliveries of 18.4 million bpd were, however, higher by 1.3% from September. Petroleum demand year to date is down 2.1% from a year ago.

“For many months, we’ve seen variations on the same theme: weak demand versus a year ago and some of the weaker demand numbers over the past decade,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “The simple fact is that unemployment remains high and economic growth has been extremely modest. Petroleum demand is reflecting that.”

Gasoline, distillate and residual fuel demand also declined in October versus a year ago, with gasoline demand falling slightly by 0.2%, the API said. 

In contrast, jet fuel demand was up 1.9% year on year.

Year-to-date gasoline deliveries reached their lowest level since 2001. However, gasoline demand for October was up against the previous month by 0.6% to 8.6 million bpd, still representing the lowest October level since 2000.

Inputs to crude distillation units rose slightly by 0.7% from September and by 0.3% from October 2011 to nearly 15.1 million bpd, the highest October level in five years.

Production of all four major products – gasoline, distillates, jet fuel, and residual fuels – was greater than demand for those products, so exports of refined petroleum products increased by 1.1% in October, the API said.

From January through October 2012, refined product imports stayed below export levels. Crude oil imports fell by 4.5% to average just over 8.5 million bpd in October.

In October, refinery utilization held steady from the preceding month at 86.9%, but was up 2.0 percentage points from last year. Refinery operable capacity was 17.362 million bpd in October, up slightly from September 2012.

Crude oil production continued to grow, up 13.3% from October one year ago, to average 6.65 million bpd, the highest October level since 1994. It also was up from the prior month and prior year to date.

North Dakota crude oil production, second only to Texas, was above 700,000 bpd for the third consecutive month and nearly 50% higher than in October 2011.

Crude oil stocks were up 9.8% from October a year ago and up 2.1% from September 2012 to end at 371.7 million bbl. Stocks of all major products were down from last year’s levels.

Gasoline stocks were down 2.9% in October from a year ago but up 0.9% from the month before.

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