U.S. consumption of distillate fuel has become less seasonal as its use as a heating fuel has fallen, exports have risen and its non-seasonal usage as a transportation fuel has increased, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Distillate fuel is primarily used for on-highway transportation in both light- and heavy-duty vehicles,” according to the EIA. “Distillate fuel is also used as a heating fuel in homes and businesses; as a fuel for certain industrial processes, agriculture, and farming; and to a lesser extent, as a fuel for electricity generation.”
U.S. distillate use rose to 4 million barrels per day in 2015, from 2.9 million barrels per day in 1985. In the period, the amount of distillate used for heating homes and businesses fell to 11%, from 28%. Meanwhile, the amount of distillate used as a transportation fuel rose to 64%, from 40%.
“Because transportation consumption of distillate fuel oil is much less seasonal than consumption of distillate fuel oil in homes and businesses, the overall seasonality in domestic demand for distillate fuel oil has significantly decreased,” according to the EIA.
The winter of 2008-2009 was the first time distillate inventories increased between October and March. Before that, inventories would reach a peak in late fall or early winter and fall during the winter months.
U.S. distillate exports set a monthly record of 1.5 million barrels per day in May. In 2016, exports reached 1.2 million barrels per day. Since 2013, exports from April through September have been about 161,000 barrels per day more than between October and March.