API Cites Uptick in Petroleum Demand for December

Total petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) for December inched up 0.6 percent from December 2008, reflecting an improved economy and possibly increased demand from colder weather. December deliveries, which averaged 19.3 million barrels per day, outpaced both four-quarter average deliveries of 19.0 million barrels per day and full-year average deliveries of 18.7 million barrels per day.

Gasoline deliveries followed a similar pattern, with December deliveries, at an average 9.1 million barrels per day, rising 2.3 percent from December 2008. Gasoline deliveries also were up 1.1 percent for the fourth quarter, and up 0.3 percent for full-year 2009.

"Clearly, petroleum demand is mirroring the economic recovery," said API Chief Economist John Felmy. "We are seeing December demand figures stronger than fourth quarter figures and fourth quarter figures stronger than full-year figures. But the data also indicates that the recovery still has a distance to go, particularly if you look at ultra-low sulfur diesel," the type required for on-highway use, he said. Felmy explained that deliveries of ultra-low sulfur diesel, the type required for on-highway use, were down 11 percent in December 2009, compared with December 2008.

Import levels of crude and products in 2009 lagged prior year levels, with December's imports of 10.7 million barrels per day, down 15 percent, fourth quarter imports of 10.9 million barrels per day, down 15.4 percent, and full-year 2009 imports of 11.7 million barrels per day, down 9.2 percent.

For full-year 2009, crude oil production was up 7 percent over the prior year, averaging 5.3 million barrels per day.