Total petroleum deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, in December rose by 1.1 percent from December 2014 to average nearly 19.7 million barrels per day, according to API’s Monthly Statistical Report for December 2015. These were the highest December deliveries in five years.
“Low prices have helped drive demand for oil and gasoline over the last year,” said API Chief Economist Erica Bowman. “In fact, demand for gasoline last month was the highest December in eight years.”
In December, total motor gasoline deliveries rose 2.0 percent from December 2014 to average just above 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate deliveries decreased by 12.7 percent compared with December 2014 to average 3.6 million barrels.
U.S. crude oil production in December averaged just below 9.3 million barrels per day, down 1.4 percent compared with December 2014. December crude oil output remains the second highest output level for the month of December in 43 years, since 1972. Natural gas liquids (NGL) production, a co-product of natural gas production, averaged nearly 3.4 million barrels per day–the highest production for the month on December on record. NGL production in December was 6.5 percent higher than year ago levels.
U.S. total petroleum imports increased from the prior year, rising 0.9 percent. However, total petroleum imports remain the second lowest imports for the month of December since 1997, averaging nearly 9.5 million barrels per day in December. Meanwhile, crude oil imports were up 4.6 percent compared with the prior year to 7.6 million barrels per day.
U.S. gross refinery inputs fell 0.1 percent from December 2014. At 4.7 million barrels per day, exports of refined petroleum products were down 3.2 percent from December 2014.
Gasoline production in December was the second highest output for the month of December, averaging 9.7 million barrels per day. This was down 2 percent from December 2014. At 5.1 million barrels per day, distillate production was down 3.7 percent compared to the prior year.
The refinery capacity utilization rate averaged 92.4 percent in December, down 1.6 percentage points lower than year ago levels. API’s latest refinery operable capacity was 18.125 million barrels per day, up 1.8 percent from last year’s capacity of 17.811 million barrels per day.
Crude oil stocks reached their highest inventory level for the month of December since 1930. At nearly 484.0 million barrels, crude stocks were up 23 percent or 90.6 million barrels higher than December 2014. Stocks of motor gasoline were down 4.7 percent from December 2014 to 229.0 million barrels. Distillate fuel oil stocks were up 14.7 percent from year ago levels and ended at 156.3 million barrels–the highest inventory level for the month in five years, since 2010. Jet fuel stocks were up 5.8 percent from the prior year. Stocks of “other oils” were up from year ago levels. Total inventories of all oils were up by 11.8 percent from year ago levels.