The American Petroleum Institute reports that U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of overall demand) rose by 1.2 percent in December 2010, compared to the same month last year. Additionally, deliveries shot up by 2.3 percent for all of 2010, compared to 2009. Likewise, gasoline and diesel demand continue to rise, with gas deliveries up by 0.6 percent for the year and diesel climbing by 4.8 percent.

API chief economist John Felmy said in a statement that the culprit here is, well, Amazon.com (sort of). Felmy said:

The robust distillate numbers suggest the nation's industrial sector continues to rebound. They were up both month over month and year over year. While consumer demand for gasoline was weak during this winter holiday season, higher prices and bad weather might have kept people off the roads. The other side of that is overall retail sales were up, led by a big 12-percent increase in e-commerce sales. People were doing more shopping online, and that, in turn, spurred more truck shipping and an increase in deliveries of ultra low sulfur diesel-a subset of total distillates and the kind of fuel the on-road trucks use-by more than 16 percent this December over last.

Here's one last bit of info that hints that our demand for gas has yet to hit its peak: in 2010, U.S. refineries set a record for annual gasoline production.

[Source: American Petroleum Institute | Image: Nevada Tumbleweed – C.C. License 2.0]
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Petroleum demand marks rise for year: API

WASHINGTON, January 21, 2011 – Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) were up 1.2 percent in December against the same month last year and up 2.3 percent for 2010 compared with 2009, evidence the U.S. economy continues to gain momentum. Both gasoline and diesel deliveries were up for full year 2010 over 2009, gasoline by 0.6 percent and distillates by 4.8 percent. Also, U.S. refiners set a record for annual gasoline production.

"The robust distillate numbers suggest the nation's industrial sector continues to rebound," said API chief economist John Felmy. "They were up both month over month and year over year. While consumer demand for gasoline was weak during this winter holiday season, higher prices and bad weather might have kept people off the roads. The other side of that is overall retail sales were up, led by a big 12-percent increase in e-commerce sales. People were doing more shopping online, and that, in turn, spurred more truck shipping and an increase in deliveries of ultra low sulfur diesel – a subset of total distillates and the kind of fuel the on-road trucks use – by more than 16 percent this December over last."

U.S. refinery activity increased, finishing a strong year. Total inputs to crude distillation units moved 1.5 percent higher this December against last, and refinery utilization increased by 4.4 percent from December 2009 to 85.7 percent. In addition to yearly average motor gasoline production reaching an all-time high, yearly average distillate fuel production was at its second highest level ever (after 2008).

Domestic crude oil production rose by 1.3 percent this December over December 2009, reaching 5.52 million barrels a day. Lower-48 crude production was up while Alaska production slipped slightly.

December's crude oil and product imports, at 10.6 million barrels per day were down from November but slightly up from December a year ago, driven by increases in crude imports. Crude imports at 8.8 million barrels per day were up by 8.1 percent while total product imports, at 1.8 million barrels per day, were down by 24.3 percent.

U.S. crude stocks in December had steep yet seasonal declines, down by 6.5 percent from November but up by 2.2 percent from December 2009. At 332.2 million barrels, this was the highest crude stock level since December 1994. All products showed stock declines in December compared with November 2010. Total motor gasoline stocks were 1.3 percent lower while distillate stocks were 0.4 percent lower.

API represents more than 450 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America's energy, supports more than 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.5 percent of the U.S. economy, and, since 2000, has invested nearly $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

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