March 9, 2023

WWW.ENERGYINTEL.COM

US Oil Demand in December Lower Than Thought

  • In its latest monthly report, the EIA has revised oil consumption down by 836,000 b/d from weekly data.
  • Core demand for transportation fuels are higher than initially reported by the EIA.
  • The US is still lagging pre-Covid-19 demand, especially for transportation fuels.

US oil consumption fell below the 20 million barrels per day in December for the first time since April, says the latest assessment of the Energy Information Administration (EIA). US oil demand in December is now pegged at 19.49 million b/d, according to the latest Petroleum Supply Monthly, a whopping 836,000 b/d lower than the EIA's influential weekly assessments.

The downward adjustment stunned observers since the EIA's monthly data had shown average upward revisions to US demand of 475,000 b/d for eight months straight ahead of December. With full year 2022 now available, US consumption remains just below pre-Covid-19 levels despite a buoyant labor market, EIA data show. In 2022, US fuel consumption was 20.28 million b/d, 515,000 b/d higher than 2021 but still 176,000 b/d below 2019.

Transportation fuels are lagging previous highs. Gasoline demand in 2022 was 500,000 b/d lower than in 2019 at 8.78 million b/d, which is still close to 9% of global oil consumption. Diesel and jet fuel were 120,000 b/d and 180,000 b/d below pre-Covid-19 levels, respectively.

Demand for natural gas liquids is higher with the rise of petrochemical activity in the US, which captures the abundance and economic advantage of those liquids.

Smidge Higher

Preliminary January data from the EIA show demand just a smidge higher from December at 19.58 million b/d. Typically, however, January demand seasonally is lower, so this could signal another adjustment ahead. The weather in January and February was warmer than normal, and the question is how that might have impacted oil demand.

Common sense would argue that less diesel and heating oil was used for heating, while spring-like weather invited more road travel. Preliminary data signal that January propane demand, used for heating this time of year, is down one-third, or 600,000 b/d, from January 2022.

Even though preliminary data had total US demand in December much higher than the more final monthly data — which in turn gets overwritten by annual adjustments — the key transportation fuels were ultimately all assessed higher in the monthly December data. Gasoline demand came in 150,000 b/d higher than weekly data, while diesel was 100,000 b/d higher.

But both gasoline and diesel consumption remained well below December 2019. US gasoline demand is thought to have peaked in 2018 at 9.32 million b/d. Demand for transportation fuels made up 70.5% of total demand in 2022, versus 73.7% in 2019.

Better Numbers

The heavy adjustment to US oil demand in December comes when the scrutiny of data is increasing as a result of rising 'adjustments' to make US oil supply and demand balance. In 2022, official EIA data saw close to 800,000 b/d more demand than supply. Adjustments create an equilibrium.

Part of the mismatch in data stems from the fact that "supply of oil" is more hybrid than just crude oil or natural gas, with US fields producing a "hydrocarbon soup," said US EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis on Twitter. Crude production is thought to be undercounted since various liquids can enter the crude stream at different points. This undercounts crude production.

Also, DeCarolis reckons many liquids like naphtha and condensates are blended into crude when exported, which overstates the crude export volume.

Same Old

US imports of crude and refined products were steady in December at a combined 8 million b/d. Exports were just over 10 million b/d that month.

The US again was a net exporter of liquids in December at 2.15 million b/d — the largest volume ever recorded by the EIA.

The largest supplier to the US was Canada with 3.53 million b/d of crude oil, followed by Mexico with 576,000 b/d and Saudi Arabia with 500,000 b/d. The largest recipient was Mexico with 1.19 million b/d of refined products. Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK and the Netherlands all took large volumes of US products and crude oil.
US Crude Exports, December 2022
MonthlyMonthlyAvg.Avg.
('000 b/d)Dec'22Dec'2120212020
All Destinations3,8533,4132,9633,206
India672560420281
Netherlands378258286298
Korea344325349269
Canada336385311420
United Kingdom243220233247
China206705256481
Singapore177014391
Italy170120114140
Taiwan15947145158
Switzerland1470144
Spain114238663
France967110281
Germany906978101
Thailand711013776
Uruguay5201717
Dominican Republic35162510
Australia2401329
Norway2424386
Peru24231920
Denmark22233031
Ireland22393943
Brazil18285334
Colombia18181915
Nicaragua91299
Belgium1015
Lithuania04826
US Crude Oil Imports, December 2022
CanadaMexicoSaudi ArabiaIraqColombiaBrazilEcuadorGrand Total
('000 b/d)Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21
Phillips 66415519116777532--1411----788874
Marathon433360322211-120---47-45-705392
Chevron202793101961115898638517-7352538507
BP381552--17-----2033--432584
Exxon Mobil389362------------421362
PBF Energy71114804810370---211432829346372
Valero19-121132--9263--50-1365317259
Flint Hills275357------------275357
Saudi Aramco5963--198247--------257310
Cenovus Energy199266------------199266
Houston Refining64823618-12--6563----164186
HF SINCLAIR REFG & MKTG LLC156-------------156-
PDV Midwest Refining126170------------126170
Tidal Energy11887------------11887
Suncor105122------------105122
Top 152,8303,080478398500472269161142179148641401454,9464,847
Total Companies3,5334,085576492500472276223215212148841402035,9906,421
Total Imports3,5334,085576492500472276223215212148841402035,9906,429
US Petroleum Product Exports, December 2022
Total ProductsTotal ProductsNGLsNGLsMogasMogasJet KeroJet KeroDistillatesDistillatesResidsResidsPet CokePet CokeOtherOther
('000 b/d)Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21Dec'22Dec'21
All Destinations6,3026,3012,5312,3771,0781,1601711701,4211,32114156567486393732
Mexico1,1921,4342201985126877270295350121336564660
Canada5055172422715065262227122310513132125
Japan6096135354970000000063831133
China4442753252240000000011935116
Brazil30139320342393114817500324055137
Indonesia8710487104000000000000
India1781649495000000407949121
Korea167230131148016000092991854
Chile1941793193526151099130900054
Peru125161175302731371850000432
Netherlands1951535255000096390014193241
Dominican Republic11310338502994113923060033
Panama1741801210283011178910927136011
Guatemala13416571361632457520073201
Ecuador163793517391000802800613311
Colombia8416433248200304300002736
Honduras775721112018212525008012
Costa Rica4879381929591931000022
Spain402221180000000019410
Egypt64336133000000003000
France7397338500004100000011
Morocco577143630000000014900
Singapore134120767500120231680001529
El Salvador52471582221111417000000
United Kingdom86793452030051100001104
Bahama Islands1042511558302172490000
Other9037583763241112612919717125315011432111
US Petroleum Product Imports, December 2022
CanadaMexicoBahamasSouth KoreaSaudi ArabiaUnited KingdomIndiaGrand Total
('000 b/d)Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21
Valero76741117---77462740123307382
Exxon Mobil109274010---10101821152243276
Irving Oil-251------------226251
BP509--50108-----51311061
Chevron--3927--556-2--1210079
Shell2117--21311---10-1791132
Vitol-1101--14-110----5850
Marathon31---311020-------5319
Saudi Aramco-28--102-10--2--5135
Atlantic Trading--11------120-10-4524
PBF Energy--2041----------4341
Phillips 66-607--151-10-334165
Trafigura-10---10-24-----24066
Freepoint Commodities--14-------8---3327
Petrogas Energy-28------------3228
Top 151194011701271194351351057865-34721,4741,536
Total Companies6256971861531195211710210578949671942,0112,134
Total Imports6276831861531195211710210578949671942,0132,125
US Petroleum Product Imports, December 2022
CanadaMexicoBahamasSouth KoreaSaudi ArabiaUnited KingdomIndiaGrand Total
('000 b/d)Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21Dec '22Dec '21
Motor Gasoline156169--10830151620-74951960645606
Other Oils222910257---383471011512495522
Middle Distillates170183----428-12--31-264324
LPG/Chemicals189201------------191211
Residual Fuel Oil212284961122--2-10---184209
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel716----8146-19--622121143
Lubricants810----1810----005240
Asphalt5066------------5068
Petroleum Coke11--------0---99
Grand Total6256971861531195211710210578949671942,0112,134
Total Companies6256971861531195211710210578949671942,0112,134
Total Imports6276831861531195211710210578949671942,0132,125

John van Schaik, New York