SFrom 1998 to 2003, the increases in domestic
production and imports have been almost equal, with net imports comprising
56% of the supply increase and production supplying 44 percent.Gasoline imports have been an economic
source of supply as implied by refinery utilization being lower in all years
from 1999 through 2003 than in 1998.
SIn 1998, U.S. refining capacity utilization
was at an historic high and very near maximum input levels during the summer
gasoline season.While utilization has
been somewhat lower since then, only modest capability to produce more
gasoline has existed during the summer period.Moreover, refining capacity increases from
1995 to 2003 have not been sufficient to produce the increases in volume of
gasoline sold in the United States.As
a result, gasoline imports increased.