Sept. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. crude oil production slowed down during the summer, measures of consumer demand for fuels declined and imports are drying up, data from the industry show.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute show total petroleum deliveries, a broad-based gauge of total demand, was up 1.3 percent in August when compared with last year. Pointing to recent data from the government, Hazem Arafa, the director of statistics for API, said a strong economy means strong demand.
"Strong economic growth is boosting petroleum demand," he said in a statement. "Meanwhile domestic production remains high allowing consumers and businesses to continue to enjoy relatively low fuel costs."
The U.S. Commerce Department reported real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the second quarter, the strongest level in years. U.S. crude oil exports, meanwhile, are at record levels as the nation's energy sector recovers from recent hurricanes that hit its southern coast.
But in August, the month before the impacts from Hurricane Harvey were felt across the sector, total gasoline deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, declined 1.5 percent from July and were lower than last year by 1.5 percent. Demand strains, however, may become apparent once API publishes data from September as Hurricane Irma left many gas stations in Florida dry because the state has no refineries of its own.
For oil production, API data from August show an average production rate of 9.3 million barrels per day, a 1.3 percent decline from July. The August rig count, which offers a loose indication of exploration and production activity, was down 0.6 percent.
For the year, however, U.S. crude oil production was up 2.4 percent and the rig count was up 96.9 percent compared with last year.
Meanwhile, while exports are on the rise, API data show a 3.2 percent decline in crude oil imports from July. The August level for impots was the lowest since November 2015 and 7 percent lower than last year.
Traders are watching supply and demand figures to get an indication of market balance. A market tilted heavily toward the supply side pushed crude oil prices to historic lows last year, though an effort by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market with managed production cuts has been supportive.