API sees lower US oil, gasoline, distillate demand


NEW YORK -- US oil demand fell 3.3% in November from a year earlier, to 18.5 million bpd, the American Petroleum Institute said Friday.

The world's biggest petroleum consumer used the lowest volume of oil in 17 years in November, the trade group said. With the exception of May, US oil use has fallen year-on-year in each month so far in 2012.

Eleven-month demand is down 2.1%, or around 400,000 bpd, from the same period a year earlier.

John Felmy, API's chief economist, said the economy has shown "modest improvement" this year, "but the fundamentals of fuel demand fail to indicate a strengthening recovery is imminent."

He noted that demand for diesel fuel, "which is critical to shipping just about everything in our economy," was down 4.5% in November from a year earlier. Year-to-date diesel use was off 1.4% from the same period in 2011.

Demand for gasoline, the most widely used petroleum product in the country, fell 0.3% from a year earlier, to 8.5 million bpd. Year-to-date gasoline use is the lowest since 2001, at 8.7 million bpd, off 0.4% from the year-earlier period.

November demand for distillate fuel (heating oil/diesel combined) was 6.3% below the year-earlier level, at 3.85 million bpd. Year-to-date demand through November, at 3.75 million bpd, was down 3.9% from the same period in 2011.

Demand for jet fuel and residual fuel, used in industrial boilers and for power generation, also dropped from a year earlier.

Refiners cut crude oil processing in November by 2.2% from a year earlier, to a seven-month low of 15.1 million bpd. Crude oil runs were flat year-to-date at 15.3 million bpd, the trade group said.

Gasoline output fell 3.1% year-on-year in November, to near 8.9 million bpd. Despite a year-on-year drop of 2.3% from January through November, output was still the third highest on record for the first 11 months of the year.

Output of gasoline, distillates and residual fuel exceeded demand, resulting in exports. Year-to-date products exports topped 3.1 million bpd, up 6.2% from the same period in 2011, while US imports of refined petroleum products dropped 19% in the period, to 1.9 million bpd.

Domestic oil output, thanks to rising flows from shale-oil fields, continued to climb and hit the highest monthly level since February 1995. Output gained 2% from October and was up 13.3%, or 800,000 bpd, from November 2011, at 6.8 million bpd. Year-to-date output was 12.7% higher than the same time in 2011, averaging 6.3 million bpd.

Higher US output continued to slash crude-oil import volumes. November crude imports averaged 8.2 million bpd, down 6.1% from a year earlier and down 3.8% year to date.

Crude oil stocks gained 10.2% on a year-on-year basis in November, while stocks of all major products were down. Gasoline stocks fell 5.4% year-on-year, while distillate stocks were down 19.5%.

Dow Jones Newswires

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