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U.S. Fuel Demand Highest for March Since 2011, API Says

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. fuel consumption increased in March to the highest level for the month in three years, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, climbed 0.4 percent from a year earlier to 18.6 million barrels a day, the industry-funded group said today. It was the highest level for March since 2011.

Gasoline consumption rose 2.3 percent to 8.81 million barrels a day. Demand for distillate fuel, the category that includes diesel and heating oil, increased 2.4 percent to 3.86 million barrels. Heating oil use surged 26 percent to 453,000 barrels a day, while diesel demand slipped 0.1 percent to 3.41 million.

“March brought strong demand for both gasoline and distillate fuel, but refinery production actually outstripped demand for all four major products,” John Felmy, chief economist at the API in Washington, said in the report. “Fortunately, the rest of the world is also eager to buy the output of U.S. refineries.”

Production of gasoline and distillates reached record highs for the month, the API said, with distillates up 12 percent to 4.79 million barrels a day and gasoline gaining 4.7 percent to 9.32 million. Fuel exports rose 28 percent to 3.99 million barrels in March compared with a year earlier. This was the first time exports dipped below 4 million in four months.

U.S. crude oil output increased 13 percent to 8.07 million barrels a day. Output of natural gas liquids, a byproduct of gas drilling, climbed 7.6 percent to 2.66 million.

Total oil and fuel imports rose 0.4 percent in March to 9.49 million barrels a day, the second-lowest import total in 18 years.

Jet fuel consumption dropped 1.6 percent to 1.35 million barrels a day last month. Demand for residual oil, used for commercial and industrial heating, electricity generation and ship propulsion, dropped 29 percent to 306,000 barrels a day, a record low for March.

John Felmy, chief economist at the API in Washington, said in the report.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net Charlotte Porter, Richard Stubbe

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