WASHINGTON -- Total U.S. petroleum demand dropped 2.0% in 2012 compared with 2011, reaching the lowest annual level in 16 years, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Total U.S. petroleum deliveries also were down 2.1% in December against a year ago. Year-over-year declines were seen in all months in 2012 except for May, API reported.
Gasoline and distillate deliveries were also down for the year compared with 2011, gasoline by 0.4% and distillates by 4.0%.
“The year was a story of contrasts. U.S. product demand weakened across the board, while domestic production of crude oil surged,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “The production bright spot reflects an industry investing and hiring at high rates, which significantly contributed to rising U.S. employment. Yet, demand was worse in 2012 than when the economy bottomed out in the recession.”
Inputs to crude distillation units rose slightly by 0.3 from the prior year to 15.3 million barrels per day, which was the highest in eight years. Production of all major refined products--gasoline, distillates, jet fuel and residual fuels--was higher than demand, so products were exported, with an overall increase of 4.6% compared with 2011.
Gasoline production fell from the prior month, the prior year and the prior year-to-date, with a decline of 2.0% (to 8.9 million barrels per day) in 2012 compared with 2011. Distillate fuel production reached a record high for the 2012.
In 2012, total imports were at their lowest level in 15 years, since 1997. Total imports averaged 10.5 million barrels per day. Crude oil imports and product imports were both also at their lowest levels in 15 years.
The refinery utilization rate for 2012 averaged 89.0% and reached 90.8% in December, both numbers up significantly from the year before. Refinery operable capacity was 17.398 million barrels per day in December.
Total U.S. crude oil production was up from the prior month, prior fourth quarter, prior year and prior year-to-date. Domestic crude oil production for 2012 averaged 6.4-million barrels per day, a 15-year high and an increase of 13.8% from 2011 levels--the largest annual increase since 1859.
API is a national trade association that represents all segments of America’s technology-driven oil and natural gas industry.