Washington, D.C. – U.S. crude oil production was up 7 per cent in 2009 compared with 2008, while import levels of crude and products were down 9.2 per cent, according to a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Despite the rise, U.S. crude oil production still lagged at an average of 5.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2009 when compared with imported crude, at 11.7 million bpd. Imported crude took its hardest drop in December, down 15 per cent from December 2008, while fourth-quarter imports were down 15.4 per cent, to 10.9 million bpd.

Total petroleum deliveries in December, a measure of oil demand, inched up 0.6 per cent from December 2008, reflecting an improved economy and possibly increased demand due to colder weather, API said. December deliveries averaged 19.3 million bpd, outpacing both the fourth-quarter average of 19.0 million bpd, and the full-year average deliveries of 18.7 million bpd.

Gasoline deliveries followed a similar pattern, with December deliveries rising 2.3 per cent from December 2008, at an average 9.1 million bpd. Gasoline was also up 1.1 per cent for the fourth quarter, and up 0.3 per cent for all of 2009.

“Clearly, petroleum demand is mirroring the economic recovery,” said API chief economist John Felmy. “We are seeing December demand figures stronger than fourth-quarter figures, and fourth-quarter figures stronger than full-year figures. But the data also indicates that the recovery still has a distance to go, particularly if you look at ultra-low sulphur diesel.”

Deliveries of ultra-low sulphur diesel, the type required for on-highway use, dropped by 11 per cent in December 2009 when compared with December 2008.

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