by Michael Bastasch
U.S. refineries are running at record levels to meet the high demand for gasoline and distillate fuel oil, according to federal data.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found the four-week average of gross refinery inputs hit 18 million barrels a day in early July — a new record. The data shows the refining industry is humming even after some facilities were shut-in or damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
EIA noted that refineries were “responding currently to high demand for petroleum products, specifically motor gasoline and distillate.” EIA expects refineries to deliver 9.8 million barrels per day of gasoline.
Refineries along the Gulf Coast processed a record-breaking 9.5 million barrels per day during that period, and Midwestern plants processed a near-record amount of crude oil, EIA reported.
Refiners nearly broke the 18-million-barrel record in August 2017, but Hurricane Harvey forced some facilities to shut down as it hammered the Gulf Coast. Harvey shut-in around 3.2 million barrels a day in refining capacity, causing gas prices to rise.
More than half of U.S. refining capacity is located along the Gulf Coast, in Texas and Louisiana, so major hurricanes can cause supply disruptions.
EIA projects “U.S. refinery runs will average 16.9 million b/d and 17.0 million b/d in 2018 and 2019,” which are new record highs.
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