US oil demand rose y/y by 0.58 mb/d to 20.19 mb/d in February, a 0.26 mb/d downward revision from the weekly EIA estimates—we had expected a 0.5 mb/d downward revision due to the government shutdown. Demand for the four main products rose by 0.54 mb/d y/y, led by 0.37 mb/d and 0.15 mb/d y/y increases in distillate and gasoline demand respectively.
US gasoline increased by 0.15 mb/d y/y to 8.96 mb/d in February, even as seasonally adjusted consumer prices increased by 0.2% m/m after no change in January. The seasonally adjusted gasoline index increased by a more substantial 1.5% m/m in February. Despite m/m increases, the price for regular gasoline in the US was 28 c/gal lower y/y at $2.31 per gallon.
US distillate demand increased by 0.37 mb/d y/y to 4.33 mb/d in January, as the Freight Transportation Service Index (TSI) rose by 3.2% y/y, although growth has moderated since peaking in November 2018.
US crude imports fell by 0.87 mb/d m/m and 0.84 mb/d y/y to 6.65 mb/d in February. OPEC led the drop (-0.67 mb/d m/m) following the December 2018 output cut decision with imports from Venezuela and Saudi coming in lower m/m by 0.32 mb/d and 0.13 mb/d respectively, hitting levels not seen since 1980s.
US crude exports hit a record high in February, rising m/m by 0.41 mb/d to 2.99 mb/d amidst peak US CDU outages (+1.01 mb/d m/m). The m/m increase was led by Asia (+0.69 mb/d m/m) as flows to South Korea rose by 0.28 mb/d m/m to 0.49 mb/d. Exports to Taiwan hit a record high of 0.31 mb/d (+0.21 mb/d), and China resumed purchases, taking 0.14 mb/d.