June 4, 2016: Don points out and he's completely correct. This huge increase month-over-month, year-over-year cannot simply be due to American drivers only. This happened so fast, and by such a wide margin, something else has to account for some of this growth. Part of the month-over-month growth was noted below (a 29-day February vs a 31-day March) but still the jump was unprecedented.
John Kemp, London-based Reuters analyst has noted that some gasoline produced in the US is exported, mostly to Europe. That may explain some of the jump in US gasoline production. A couple other data points:
- recently all eight French refineries were shut down in France
- French refineries gradually coming back on line, but things are not back to normal
- Venezuela may not be refining a whole lot of gasoline; they cannot pay for the light oil that they need to mix with their heavy oil before refining; see this post from this week;
If there is any validity to Don's suggestion, we should see some huge jumps in gasoline production in the US over the next few months. So we'll see. It will be interesting to see if gasoline production in May/June (2016) increases and if any analyst suggests the shutdown of all French refineries had anything to do with it.
By the way, the unions shutting down French refineries was probably pretty stupid: there is no shortage of gasoline globally, so once the logistics was sorted out, France would have adequate sources of gasoline.
US refinery capacity is running at about 89% ... which makes Prince Salman's plan to build more refineries .... should we say, problematic?
For newbies, March is NOT the beginning of the driving season in the US.
Memorial Day is.
But back to the "number."
Scroll up that list for all the months of March from 1990 to this March, 2016. No previous month of March even comes close to 291,373. The closest was 284,506, back in 2007, just before the US economy went over the recession cliff.
August is the "big" month for gasoline demand in the US. How does the March, 2016, "number" compare with previous months of August? I'm glad you asked. With only a few exceptions, the "number" for March, 2016, actually exceeded the gasoline demand for the busies travel month in the US.
Let's see, on a percentage basis, month-over-month: 291,373 - 266,981 --> slightly more than a 9% increase. Whooo-hoooo. Of course, that's an unfair comparison because March has 31 days; February had 29 days. On a month-over-month, daily basis: 9,399 - 9,206 --> only 2%.
Let's see, on a percentage basis, year-over-year: 291,373 - 280,708 --> just less than a 4% increase.