Here are a few highlights from this month’s US Energy Information Administration monthly report.
- There’s a remarkable consistency now in the level of US net petroleum imports. In the last six months, they’ve ranged from 6.245 million b/d to 6.868 million b/d. In August, the month of the most recent report, they were just under 6.5 million b/d. Contrast that stabilization with last year, when net petroleum imports opened the year at just over 8 million b/d for January, and finished the year at just over 6 million b/d.
- Rising distillate exports took a breather from setting new monthly records. In August, exports were 1.301 million b/d, just under July’s record of 1.383 million b/d. However, that’s still the second-highest ever. Exports of diesel with 15 ppm sulfur or less were 953,000 b/d, down from July’s record of 1.078 million b/d. But that too was the second-highest ever.
- Finished gasoline exports were 380,000 b/d. That is well below the record months of November and December 2011, when they were more than 600,000 b/d.
- The only really notable change in US crude imports–which totaled 8.099 million b/d, in line with recent monthly figures–was the sharp decline coming out of Venezuela. At 603,000 b/d, that was the lowest–excluding the 2002/2003 PDVSA strike–since May 1991. (Note: date of Venezuelan strike corrected from earlier transmission.)
- US crude oil production did not set a new record. At 7.505 million b/d it was less than the 7.517 million b/d of a month earlier. But Texas at 2.676 million b/d was the highest the EIA has recorded since its data launch in 1981, and North Dakota at 911,000 b/d also was a record. The big decliner? Alaska, at 428,000 b/d, down from 493,000 b/d a month earlier. It’s not a recent low, but it’s close.
- The drilling moratorium that was going to hammer US Gulf Coast production? It was supposed to hit about three years or so after it was implemented. So it just might be the cause of the area’s continued low level of output. August production was 1.191 million b/d. That’s three times in the last year it was less than 1.2 million b/d, and the eight-month average for this year is 1.25 million b/d, after averaging just slightly more than that last year. In 2009, the last full year before the moratorium, it was 1.56 million b/d.
- Refiners keep squeezing more and more residual fuel out of their yields. Residual fuel made up only 2.5% of the average refinery yield. Last December, it was 2.4%, the lowest ever. In 2008, it averaged a little more than 4%.