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The American Petroleum Institute reported that a number of records were broken in the energy industry of the United States in December, including gasoline demand, crude oil production, and crude oil exports.
In the latest edition of its Monthly Statistical Report, the API said that gasoline demand in 2018 had stayed at a high of 9.3 million barrels daily, the same as during the previous two years, with refinery capacity utilization at 93 percent on average throughout the year.
Crude oil production, the authority said, reached 11.7 million bpd as of December 2018, with exports at 2.4 million bpd on average during the same month, flat on November but a lot stronger than in the first months after the removal of the oil export moratorium.
Crude oil demand remained strong, averaging 20.7 million bpd in December and 20.5 million bpd in full 2018, which was the highest number since 2007, the API noted, adding this happened despite the steady and significant growth in international oil prices for much of the year.
Despite the record-high gasoline demand last year, however, supply seems to be excessive, as per a Reuters report from last week. Oversupply of the most popular fuel is pressuring refiners’ margins, an effect reinforced by relatively sluggish demand, which is largely seasonally explained.
Over the four weeks to January 18, the Energy Information Administration reported gasoline inventory builds reaching a combined 26.6 million barrels, with the total at 259.6 million barrels, which was the highest inventory level on record.
The reason for this is the kind of crude that constitutes most of the U.S. production. The shale oil boom has yielded predominantly light crude, from which gasoline is made, so the most recent surge in production has resulted in more production of the light fuel. However, U.S. refiners have also upped their gasoline output levels as they increase distillate fuel production as well, as it fetches higher margins.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.