U.S. Oil Demand Fell to 18-Year Low for January, API Says

U.S. January oil demand fell to the lowest level for the month in 18 years as a weak economy reduced consumption, the American Petroleum Institute reported.

Total petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, dropped 1.7 percent from a year earlier to 18 million barrels a day, the industry-funded group said in a monthly report today. Total consumption fell 2 percent in 2012, the API said last month. The U.S. jobless rate increased to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in January.

“The January numbers reprise last year’s theme of weak demand,” John Felmy, chief economist at the API, said in the report. “This isn’t surprising given an economy that’s still treading water.”

January petroleum demand fell 2.4 percent from December, according to the API. Gasoline deliveries were 8.38 million barrels a day, up 2.4 percent from a year earlier and down 2.3 percent from December.

Use of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, slid 6 percent from a year earlier to 3.6 million barrels a day. Demand for ultra-low-sulfur diesel, the type used by the trucking industry, fell 4.4 percent to 3.11 million.

Jet fuel consumption decreased 0.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.31 million barrels a day.

U.S. crude-oil production jumped 14 percent from a year earlier to 7.01 million barrels a day. Output in the lower 48 states rose 16 percent to 6.42 million barrels a day. Alaskan production decreased 1 percent to 587,000 barrels a day.

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