Reflecting the ongoing sluggish economic recovery, US gasoline deliveries for the first half of 2010 averaged 8.88 million barrels per day, 0.6% lower than the corresponding period a year ago, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Monthly Statistical Report for June.

June gasoline deliveries of 9.18 million barrel per day were the lowest level for any June since 2004 and were 0.5% lower than June 2009 deliveries, the report noted.

Even as gasoline demand remained depressed, distillate (home heating and diesel) demand—which tends to track economic output closely—improved in both the first half of the year and for June. First-half low sulfur distillate deliveries jumped 2.1% from 2009 to average 3.29 million barrels per day in 2010; June low-sulfur distillate deliveries surged 12.3% from last year to average 3.51 million barrels per day for June 2010.

Total US crude oil production averaged 5.47 million barrels per day in the first half of 2010, 3.5% higher than last year’s 5.29 million barrels per day. For June, crude production in the Lower 48 states rose 3.9% to 4.8 million barrels per day, while Alaskan production dipped 2.6% to 556,000 barrels per day after some North Slope operators reduced production in the middle of the month. Historically, production wanes in the summer in Alaska due to maintenance work and lower operational efficiency in warmer weather.

US refinery operations continued to improve in June relative to May this year, with production of all products, except residential fuel oil, improving in June. Inputs to crude distillate units averaged 15.3 million barrels per day, a 0.6 increase from May, and the fifth consecutive monthly increase. For the first half of 2010, refinery inputs of 14.84 million barrels per day were 1.3% higher this year than last.