U.S. Fuel Demand Climbed in February as Economy Grew, API Says

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. fuel demand rose in February as economic growth bolstered gasoline and diesel use, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, climbed 4.4 percent to 19.7 million barrels a day last month from a year earlier, the highest February total in three years, the industry-funded group said today in a report.

Gasoline consumption increased 4.2 percent to 9.01 million barrels a day from the same month last year.

“It looks like we’ve turned a corner, and it’s showing up in fuel deliveries,” John Felmy, chief economist with the Washington-based API, said in a telephone interview. “The gasoline number is especially encouraging because it’s closely tied to retail sales. We also continue to see strong demand for low-sulfur distillate and jet fuel.”

Total demand for distillate fuel, a category that includes diesel and heating oil, rose 3.8 percent to 4 million barrels a day. Consumption of ultra-low sulfur diesel, the type used on highways, surged 18 percent to average 3.2 million barrels a day, the report showed.

Heating oil consumption surged 31 percent to 775,000 barrels a day.

“The only negative in the report is the fact that people were spending a lot more on heating oil,” Felmy said. “It’s been a real cold winter.”

Jet-fuel use climbed 7.1 percent to an average 1.44 million barrels a day last month compared with the same period in 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net