API Report Provides Early Indication of Impact of Coronavirus

The American Petroleum Institute (API) in its February 2020 Monthly Statistical Report (MSR), released March 19, provides an early indication of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on energy markets.

Data from the report reflect the onset of the virus with downturns in demand for diesel (down 9.9% year-over-year) and jet fuel (down 5.2% year-over-year), but a slight increase in gasoline (up 0.3% year-over-year), suggesting many consumers chose to drive instead of fly in February.

“February data reflect the onset of the coronavirus and serve as an early indicator of the impact this global pandemic has had on energy markets,” said Dean Foreman, API chief economist. “The demand destruction resulting from the coronavirus combined with Saudi Arabia and Russia increasing supply has left global energy markets in unchartered territory.”

Since the coronavirus impact on U.S. markets has largely been felt in March, API’s next MSR will provide a clearer picture on changes to supply and demand.

Key Takeaways From the February 2020 MSR include:

Fuel substitution: Lower jet fuel and diesel deliveries in February were partially offset by increased gasoline demand as consumers appear to have driven instead of flown, likely due to concerns about the coronavirus. Consequently, U.S. gasoline demand rose in February to its highest for the month since 2007.

Slow supply growth: U.S. crude oil production sustained its record 13.0 mmbbld against a backdrop in which productivity and well completions (rather than drilling) shouldered the growth.

Record U.S. crude oil exports: At 3.6 mmbbld, record U.S. crude oil exports contributed to strong total petroleum exports (9.2 mmbbld) that made the U.S. a net exporter of oil in February.

Closer domestic and international prices: The price difference between domestic West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and international Brent crude oil prices narrowed in February and likely responded to increased pipeline capacity that especially enabled Permian basin crude oil to go to market more efficiently.

API’s February 2020 MSR can be downloaded at api.org/~/media/Files/News/2020/03/Monthly_Statistical_Report_February_2020.pdf.

SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, March 26, 2020. Subscribe to receive the latest posted and spot prices from all major terminals and refineries around the U.S., featuring a center spread of posted prices that includes hundreds of postings completely updated each week, market analysis, insightful commentary and more.)