WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The overall petroleum demand in the United States went down in January to the lowest level for the month in 18 years, said a leading industry group in a report released on Thursday.
The total petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, fell 1.7 percent in January against the same month a year ago to 17.962 million barrels per day, said the American Petroleum Institute ( API) in its monthly report.
U.S. petroleum demand had been declining in all months of 2012 except for May. "The January numbers reprise last year's theme of weak demand," said API Chief Economist John Felmy, "This isn't surprising given an economy that's still treading water."
In January, gasoline deliveries edged up to 8.384 million barrels per day, 2.4 percent more than a year ago, but still the third lowest January level since 2002.
In contrast, U.S. domestic crude oil production in January rose to 7.011 million barrels per day. It was the first time in 20 years to reach above 7 million barrels per day and marked the highest January level in 21 years. Thanks to unconventional oil development, year-over-year increases in U.S. domestic crude oil production had taken place for 16 straight months.
With the surging domestic energy production, imports of crude oil and refined products in January were at the lowest level in 13 years, averaging 10.4 million barrels per day.
The report also said that the January crude oil stocks of 371. 8 million barrels, which excluded strategic petroleum reserve, were at its highest January level in 32 years.
API represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies that supply most of the U.S. energy and support an estimated 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy.