• Apr 23, 2011
Steadily rising fuel costs during the first three months of 2011 have had virtually no impact on total U.S. petroleum deliveries, says the American Petroleum Institute (API). First-quarter deliveries rose by 5.5 percent, compared to the same period in 2010. For March, deliveries surged by 7.3 percent over the same month in 2010, hitting a whopping 20.5 million barrels per day. API chief economist John Felmy said in a statement that the culprit here is the rebounding economy:
Strong deliveries continue to indicate growth in the economy. The increase is consistent with expansion in the manufacturing sector reported by the government, although that was relatively modest. The increase is especially significant given the potentially depressing effect of rising prices on fuel demand and amid some prognostications that forward growth in the economy may be more modest than hoped.
The petroleum increase made its way to our pumps. During the first quarter of 2011, gasoline deliveries jumped by 4.1 percent, compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, U.S. refinery production of gasoline rose by 4.9 percent in March, compared to February, leading to record highs in both the month of March and the first quarter of 2011.

[Source: American Petroleum Institute | Image: Rennett Stowe – C.C. License 2.0]
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Petroleum demand surges in March, first quarter: API

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2011 – Steadily rising fuel costs during the first quarter of 2011 appear to have had little impact on total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand). First quarter deliveries rose by 5.5 percent compared with the first quarter in 2010, led by a 7.3 percent surge in March 2011 (to 20.5 million barrels per day) over the same month in 2010.

"Strong deliveries continue to indicate growth in the economy," said API chief economist John Felmy. "The increase is consistent with expansion in the manufacturing sector reported by the government, although that was relatively modest. The increase is especially significant given the potentially depressing effect of rising prices on fuel demand and amid some prognostications that forward growth in the economy may be more modest than hoped."

For the first quarter over the same period a year ago, deliveries of gasoline were up 4.1 percent, distillates were up 8.0 percent, and ultra-low sulfur distillates were up 12.6 percent. For March, deliveries for gasoline were up 6.1 percent; distillates were up 11.3 percent, and ultra-low sulfur distillates were up 21.1 percent compared with March 2010.

Crude oil production in March 2011 reversed the prior month's year-over-year declines, moving higher by 0.3 percent compared with March 2010, although the dips in January and February offset any gains in March, dragging first quarter volumes lower by 0.2 percent compared with the prior year.

Refinery production of gasoline and distillates were higher by 4.9 percent and 22.1 percent respectively in March, leading to record highs in total downstream production for March and for the first quarter.

Product imports continued their year-over-year declines for the third month in a row, down by 19.4 percent in March. Total imports of crude oil and petroleum products were down by 2.5 percent in March. Crude stocks were at their second-highest March level in the past ten years (only below March 2009) while March gasoline stocks were lower than in February and lower than March a year ago.
API represents more than 470 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, delivers more than $85 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested over $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

Updated:April 21, 2011


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  • 11 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm glad I picked up my Chevy Volt (from Elkins Chevrolet) in late March, so I won't be contributing to the rising demand (and thus prices). In four weeks, I've driven over 900 miles so far, and used only 0.2 gallons of gas. We'll probably use my wife's car (2011 Fusion that gets great hwy mileage) on road trips, so I expect the full tank of gas that was in my Volt when I picket it up to last me through the summer driving season and well into fall.
        electronx16
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why did yoy buy the Volt if you only use it for short trips and you have another car for those longer trips? Sounds like you could have bought a Leaf and saved yourself $8K.....That's the general message here: if you really rarely need to fill up with gas it's an indication that you would have been better off buying the Leaf.
          Marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          There's a lot of truth is what you say, however some people prefer the larger and better equipped Volt. The Volt has some real advantages over the Leaf, but it's really a matter of personal taste. I predict a big market for the Buick version of the Volt.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      tick tock, tick tock..
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seen 4 bucks a gallon here in Oregon. Gonna be good 2 wheel riding weather for the next 6 months though, i don't give a damn! Food prices going up though.. yesh; that sucks.
      Joseph Brody
      • 3 Years Ago
      I still like driving my car, but I ride my bike (Power of Zero). I takes me over a month to go through a 9 gallon tank of gas in my Insight. So, my phone bill is more than my gas bill.
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm skeptical.
        Marcopolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        John, it's good to see you still contributing. Like you, I don't like the new format, but what can be done? Gradual oil price increases with fluctuations up and down, sort of condition the consumer to complacency. A bit like slowly heating the water around a frog. The amphibian never realises the extent of the rising heat. The point where oil becomes uneconomic is some years away, however the US still offers very low oil prices in comparison to the rest of the world. (A recent ABG article described US oil prices as somewhere in the middle! Of course if UAR,Brunei,Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,Oman are included in your sample, this might be true! ) As long as oil technology is economically superior to alternatives on a general scale, the general public will complain, but accept higher prices. Oil companies will be demonised, but the superannuation funds and institutions will continue to invest since their members will happily receive the dividends. Crank Conspiracy theorists will rant, but achieve little, as the much trumpeted alternatives are either impractical, politically unacceptable, or require a totally unrealistic reorganisation of society. Fossil Fuel's will remain economically dominant until superseded by better technology that provides the same benefits. The corporations that should be most active, are the electricity utilities, but the power utilities are in real difficulties fulfilling current demand, and are not motivated to sell more.
          harlanx6
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Well said, Marco, and I totally agree. The speculators are driving futures prices for fuels up resulting in a temporary imbalance right now, and I do believe in the short term, because the profits are really good, supply will again outreach demand, resulting in a fuel price correction similar to '08. I could be wrong. In the long term it won't matter much. The oil companies have to sell a lot of oil to survive, and I would be shocked if they didn't have a 50 year plan to keep us addicted. That requires affordability. Now we are at their mercy for transportation, but the good parasite can't kill the host or it also perishes. Electric cars are selling. Really selling well. In a way this presents important competition to the oil companies. Since I live in an area with sunshine, my ideal would be an EV, with a small ICE kicker, parked in my garage with solar panels on the roof. For a minute, I would be free from overbearing government, oil companies and the Utility company. After that minute expired I would be taxed by the government again, probably by the mile traveled. Someone has to pay to fix the potholes. I have to say as I look back that fuel is still relatively cheap here in historical perspective. The problem Americans are going to have is the dollar is getting cheaper.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's $4 a gallon here in PA too. What I don't understand that just a few days ago there was a blurb in the news that basically said: "Gasoline consumption fell 3.6% in the last 5 weeks" ???
      Levine Levine
      • 3 Years Ago
      Also from API: housing prices surged in March as housing shortage continues. API credo: Gasoline prices will never go down. There's a limited supply of gasoline. Gasoline is a good investment. Buy now before prices get even higher. Back up offer.