US demand and trade – Mar 2019

Published at 20:07 31 May 2019 by . Last edited 11:18 22 Aug 2019.

US oil demand fell y/y by 0.37 mb/d to 20.20 mb/d in March, a 0.38 mb/d downward revision from the weekly EIA estimates—we had expected no revisions to the weekly data. Demand for the four main products fell by 0.30 mb/d y/y, led by gasoline. Demand fell y/y across the entire barrel for the first time since December 2012, with ‘other oils’ demand also lower y/y.

US gasoline demand fell by 0.27 mb/d y/y to 9.17 mb/d in March, despite retail gasoline prices being lower y/y, although vehicle-miles travelled (VMT) growth was anaemic at 0.3% y/y. Gasoline demand in PADD 1 increased by 0.10 mb/d y/y to 3.40 mb/d, as VMTs in the Northeast and South Atlantic increased by 2.2% y/y and 1.5% y/y.

US distillate demand fell by 14 thousand b/d to 4.15 mb/d in March (even as PADD 1 rose y/y) as the Freight Transportation Service Index increased by just 0.4% m/m and 1.3% y/y. The weakness is at odds with the ISM manufacturing index, which rose from a 27-month low, increasing by 2.0% m/m to 55.3.

US crude throughputs were 0.73 mb/d lower y/y (+0.10 mb/d m/m) at 15.94 mb/d in March, as utilisation rates (adjusted for outages) increased by 0.2 ppts y/y to 91.7%. Offline CDU capacity increased by 0.44 mb/d y/y to 1.9 mb/d, leaving US operable capacity at 17.4 mb/d in March.

US crude exports fell m/m in March by 0.31 mb/d to 2.68 mb/d despite high US CDU outages (1.99 mb/d) as peak refinery works continued in Europe and Asia through April and May. The m/m drop was led again by Europe, with all countries but Ireland (+37 thousand b/d) taking less barrels as refinery works continued. 

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