API: Hurricanes Slash Production Output Stats

Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) fell substantially for September and for the third quarter 2008 as Gulf Coast storms depressed offshore production and refinery output. Inventories of crude and most products also fell.

"Hurricanes Gustav and Ike hurled some significant challenges at the industry this past month," said API statistics manager Ron Planting. "The combined result was the shutting-in of an estimated 32 million barrels of crude oil and 164 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Also, about 4 million barrels per day of U.S. refinery capacity were affected." Most oil and gas production in the Gulf region is now back on-line, and all but one refinery is up and running.

According to API's Monthly Statistical Report, total petroleum deliveries for the third quarter were down 5.2 percent from third-quarter 2007. Gasoline deliveries fell 4 percent; distillate deliveries dropped 7.4 percent; and jet fuel deliveries slipped 2.7 percent.

While the hurricanes helped lower domestic crude oil production by 17 percent from September a year ago (to just over 4 million barrels per day), it also hindered the delivery of foreign crude oil to Gulf Coast ports. Crude oil imports fell nearly 13 percent to less than 9 million barrels per day compared with September 2007, sinking to its lowest level in more than five years. The government delivered close to 5 million barrels from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve to a number of refiners seeking replacement crude oil supplies.

Although total petroleum product imports rose from the month before (August 2008), they were less than in September 2007. September 2008 imports of gasoline (including blending components) rose 7.8 percent from August 2008 to 1.2 million barrels per day. Gasoline imports were down only slightly from September 2007 (about 3,000 barrels per day) and were the third highest ever for September. Total distillate imports rose from their 13-year low last month by more than 21 percent to 188,000 barrels per day.

The storms, which hit the Gulf Coast during the first half of September, affected U.S. product prices, driving regular gasoline from $3.68 a gallon at the beginning of September to $3.84 a gallon by mid-month. They then declined steadily to $3.63 a gallon at the end of the month. The average monthly price was $3.70 a gallon, up 32 percent from September 2007.