US gasoline production hits record high in March - trade group

16 April 2010 17:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US refineries produced more gasoline in March than any other previous month on record, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Friday.

The 9.3m bbl/day produced were more than any previous month, while the 9.2m bbl/day of gasoline deliveries, or demand, was higher than any previous March, the trade group said.

US refineries are doing yeoman’s work meeting consumer demand,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “Moreover, the record gasoline production in March makes it abundantly clear that supply is not an issue with the higher gasoline prices we’ve seen.”

The jump in operating rates at US refineries has played a role in snapping an uptrend in propylene, the price of which soared by 40% in the first quarter on the back of tight supply.

Refinery-grade propylene (RGP) ended March trading at 68.00-70.00 cents/lb ($1,499-1,543/tonne, €1,543-1,142/tonne), up from 48.50-50.00 cents/lb in the first week of January, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

April RGP was offered on Friday at 47.00 cents/lb, its lowest level in 2010, but failing to attract interest from buyers.

Market participants have also attributed the drop in RGP prices to weakening demand.

Total March deliveries of all products, including gasoline, distillate, jet fuel and residual fuel, rose 3.5% year over year. The increase in US gasoline production more than offset a 3.8% year-over-year decline in distillate production, the API said.

As overall US production increased, crude oil imports and product imports each fell by 1.2% and 31%, respectively, according to the API.

($1 = €0.74)

Additional reporting by William Lemos

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By: Ben DuBose
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