US gasoline consumption falls to more than a 10-year low

19 January 2012 21:26  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Statistics released on Thursday indicate US consumption of finished gasoline dropped for the week ended 13 January to its lowest level since the 11 September, 2001, terrorism attacks.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported consumption of finished gasoline dropped to a more than ten-year low of 7.996m bbl/day the week ended 13 January, compared with 7.834m bbl/day for the week ended 21 September, 2001.

Last week’s amount also was 182,000 bbl/day below the week ended 6 January, 2011.

PFGBest energy analyst Phil Flynn said he was not surprised by the low consumption rate.

“We’ve seen a couple of factors that have changed the way Americans drive forever,” he said.

Gasoline consumption peaked in 2007 when the economy was growing, and Americans were driving sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and there was less concern about the price of gasoline, Flynn said.

When oil prices hit $150/bbl in 2008 during the height of the economic crisis, however, Americans began conserving gasoline, similar to when crude prices spiked in the 1970s.

In addition, the EIA reported in its Short-Term Energy Outlook that the driving population for the US is dwindling as the baby boomers get older.

“As the baby boomers get closer to retirement, they are not cruising the neighbourhood for chicks – well, some 65-year olds are,” Flynn said. “An aging country is driving less.”

The nationwide average retail price for conventional gasoline is $3.378/gal, according to the automobile group AAA. The EIA reported the national average for mid-September, 2001, at $1.495/gal.

By: Sheena Martin
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