U.S. Oil Output Drops to 16-Month Low as Spending Cuts Take Hold

Volatility in Oil Impacting Global Markets
  • Output down 3.6% from year earlier at 9.11 million b/d: API
  • February gasoline consumption increased to record for month

U.S. crude production in February declined to a 16-month low as prices dropped to the lowest level in more than 12 years and spending cuts by drillers took hold.

Producers nationwide pumped an average 9.11 million barrels of crude a day in February, down 3.6 percent from a year earlier, the American Petroleum Institute said Thursday in a monthly report. 

Oil explorers across North America have reduced spending and cut more than 100,000 workers to cope with the slump in prices. The number of active oil rigs in the U.S. dropped to 386 in the week ended Friday, the least since 2009, according to data compiled by Baker Hughes Inc.

West Texas Intermediate for April delivery rose 4.5 percent to close at $40.20 a barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the highest settlement since Dec. 3. Futures touched $26.05 on Feb. 11, the lowest since May 2003.

Production of natural gas liquids, a byproduct of gas drilling, rose 10 percent from February 2015 to 3.41 million barrels a day, a record for the month.

Total deliveries of fuel, a measure of demand, rose 2 percent from a year earlier to the highest February total since 2008. Consumption of gasoline and jet fuel increased while demand for distillate fuel, a category including diesel and heating oil, dropped.

Gasoline consumption rose 5.2 percent from a year earlier to a record 9.1 million barrels a day. Jet fuel demand climbed 6.1 percent, while distillate fuel use slumped 17 percent during a mild winter.

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