U.S. Gasoline Output Surged to Record in April, API Says

U.S. gasoline production climbed to an all-time high in April as fuel exports surged, the American Petroleum Institute said in a monthly report.

Production of gasoline jumped 9.2 percent from a year earlier to a record 9.79 million barrels a day last month, the industry-funded group said today. Output of distillate fuel, a category that includes diesel and heating oil, rose 12 percent to 4.95 million, a record for the month.

“Demand is up for both gasoline and distillate, and refiners are meeting it,” John Felmy, chief economist at the API in Washington, said by phone.

Gasoline consumption jumped 2.7 percent to 9 million barrels a day. Demand for distillates increased 8.8 percent to 4.21 million, the most for April since 2007. Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, advanced 2.3 percent to 19 million barrels a day.

Refineries processed 16.1 million barrels a day, a record for April. Production of gasoline, distillate, jet fuel and residual fuel exceeded domestic demand, leading to a gain in exports.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have unlocked supplies from shale formations in the central U.S., including the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas. Most of the output from shale is light, sweet crude, or oil with low density and sulfur content, which yields a high proportion of diesel and gasoline.

Fuel exports rose 16 percent to 3.72 million barrels a day, a record for the month. The all-time high of 4.4 million came in December.

“I suspect that the influx of light, sweet crude from the Bakken and Eagle Ford, along with the gain in refinery input, is behind the rise in gasoline output,” Felmy said. “We’re lucky to be able to export the additional barrels, which helps the refinery sector.”

U.S. crude oil output increased 13 percent to 8.25 million barrels a day, the most for April since 1988. Output of natural gas liquids, a drilling by-product, climbed 9.2 percent to 2.7 million.

Jet fuel consumption dropped 0.5 percent to 1.41 million barrels a day, the second-lowest April level in 19 years. Demand for residual oil, used for commercial and industrial heating, electricity generation and ship propulsion, dropped 13 percent to 248,000 barrels a day.

Total oil and fuel imports rose 0.6 percent in April to 10.1 million barrels a day, the second-lowest total in 17 years.

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