U.S. Gasoline Use Reaches Record in July as Pump Price Dips

  • Consumption up 2.4% from year earlier at 9.67 million b/d: API
  • Refineries produced a record amount of gasoline last month

U.S. gasoline consumption climbed in July to a record as low retail prices encouraged Americans to hit the highways.

Demand for gasoline rose 2.4 percent from a year earlier to 9.67 million barrels a day, the American Petroleum Institute said Thursday in a monthly report. Total fuel deliveries, a measure of consumption, climbed 0.8 percent to the highest July total since 2007.

"Gasoline deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, hit their highest level on record in July," Erica Bowman, chief economist at the API in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement. "With this indication of increased demand, it’s clear that consumers have continued to benefit from lower gasoline prices at the pump."

The average price of regular gasoline at the pump nationwide was $2.135 a gallon on Wednesday, down 20 percent from a year earlier, according to data from Heathrow, Florida-based AAA, a national federation of motor clubs. Retail prices touched $2.116 on Aug. 3, the lowest since April 20.

Refineries maximized gasoline production at the expense of other fuels. Gasoline output averaged a record 10.2 million barrels a day in July, up 1.9 percent from a year earlier, the API said. Output of distillate fuel, a category that includes diesel and heating oil, averaged 4.96 million barrels a day, down 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

Ample Inventories

Inventories of the motor fuel ended July at 237.1 million barrels, the most for the month since 1984, the API said. Crude-oil stockpiles stood at 519.6 million barrels at the end of last month, the highest July total since 1920.

Producers pumped an average 8.49 million barrels of crude a day in July, down 10 percent from a year earlier. It was the fourth-straight month that output slipped, leaving production at the lowest level since March 2014, the API said.

Output of natural gas liquids, a byproduct of gas drilling, rose 8.7 percent from July 2015 to 3.57 million barrels a day, a record for the month.

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