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US Petroleum Consumption Hits Record Highs in 2005

Average daily petroleum consumption. Inset shows total  consumption; large graph the detail of the outlined area. Click to enlarge.

Consumption of petroleum in the US reached record highs in 2005, climbing 1.7% over 2004 levels to an average 20.7 million barrels per day, according to data from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration.

Three of the weeks in December 2005 ranked first, second and third in terms of the highest average weekly amount of petroleum consumed in the US, with the week of 16 December topping the chart at 22.156 million barrels per day.

Average daily fuel consumption. Click to enlarge.

Consumption of gasoline and diesel also hit their record highs in 2005, with a daily average 9.2 million barrels of gasoline (up 1% from 2004) and a daily average 4.1 million barrels of diesel (up 1.6% from 2004) consumed.

In New York this morning, crude oil rose for the sixth day out of seven on signs of continued rising gasoline demand in the US, reaching $63.38 a barrel.

“People are now confident of the global economy with oil prices in the high $50s to low $60s,” said Kevin Norrish, an analyst at Barclays Capital in London. “Crude oil fundamentals are setting the tone now and it has emerged that demand was strong toward the end of last year” in the U.S. and Japan. (Bloomberg)



So really. All the efforts of those in the conservation community have been for naught. The only thing people understand is pain.


But this time even thou the cost of fuels is once again going through the roof you don't see anyone on TV complaining about the high costs of gas. I guess the old 30 second attention span of the American consumer is still in full effect. I guess that the only way to really effect change is to have gas prices hit $6.00 per gallon.


The fact is that business and people have become more productive and efficient overall since the 70's, so the higher costs of energy haven't had as much of an effect yet. Energy costs are a smaller portion of GDP than they were then, so it will take higher prices proportionally to have such an effect.

David Windsor

That first graph is grossly misleading and has a Lie Factor that would make Tufte cry.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Lie Factor = (size of effect shown in graphic) / (size of effect in data)

Actual 10-year Increase: 17%
Graphical 10-year Increase: ~180%

Lie Factor = 180/17 : ~10.6

See example on pp. 57-58 of Tufte's book.

Harvey D

Amazing achievement and that doesn't include the petroleum consummed outside the USA by the american armed forces and all the petroleum used to produce the imported goods for the $800 billion trade deficit. Tweenty two (22) million barrel/dy internal consumption is equiv. to 27 barrel per capita per year or about 24.7% of the world petroleum consumption. Canada is doing relatively even worse with a per capita consumption of about 30 barrel/dy. A minor difference is that USA imports 65% + and Canada is a net exporter but that doesn't make us any wiser. What is required to convince North Americans to reduce petroleum and energy consumption? When will we do it.

Harvey D

Correction: The Canadian per capita petroleum consumption should read about 30 barrel per year NOT per day.


Fuel eating cars are ever increasing and not 80% of them are hybrids. Of course fuel consumption will increase. Does anyone have the % increased over the pass years? It is considered an improvement if the percentage increased is falling.

However, when big guys like US or china need to suck in more oil, the entire world economy suffered.


David, I don't entirely agree with your assessment of the graph, given the size of the font on the y axis in the original. Using 0 as the minimum on the Y axis obscures some interesting elements, such as the relatively steep climb in consumption during the past three years--a time when oil prices were fairly aggressively on the rise.

However, I do hear you, so I've republished the graph with an inset showing the full plot from 0 to 22.156 million, and the larger plot showing more of the detail of the changes between 16 million and 21 million.

Jason Marshall

The numbers lie in another way as well: These aren't calculated per capita, they're gross consumption. The lines show something like almost 7% fuel use growth over the last 5 years. Meanwhile, the US census bureau shows an almost 6% growth in population over that same period (a more accurate number would be adult population growth).

They also show a decelleration in the consumption curve for last year, which is at least promising. I hope that as more people come due to get a new vehicle, that the line will flatten a bit further.


Anyone hear about Changing World Technology? They have proven technology called Thermal Conversion Process that can convert any carbon-based waste (agricultural, garbage, etc.) into bio-diesel. Based on the daily gasoline (9.2mbd) and diesel (4.1mbd) used in this article, I calculate that we consume something like 4.85 billion barrels of oil a year just for transportation purposes. Anyhow, according to CWT, the USA generates over 10 billions tons of garbage every year. By converting only 70% of the waste stream by way of the TCP, CWT can produce 4 billion barrels of bio-diesel a year. So that’s like 80% our current 4.85B yearly oil base. The cost per barrel of Bo-diesel should be a lot lower. Also, we could make up the other 20% of our 4.85B yearly oil base by growing saw grass and then convert that by way of CWT’s Thermal Conversion Process. So it’s time to build a whole lot of these TCP plants across our country and then filler up with bio-fuels.

Jag D.



Let me post a THIRD WAY that this lies ...


This statement: "Consumption of petroleum in the US reached record highs in 2005, climbing 1.7% over 2004 levels to an average 20.7 million barrels per day, according to data from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration."

IS SIMPLY FALSE. You are using the numbers for December 2005 versus December 2004. But those numbers mislead a bit since a cold snap in the US in mid-December 2005 bumped up usage.
Extremely cold weather creates heating oil demand but you fail to acknowledge that or note that heating oil demand *fell* 2 weeks later by 600,000 barrels/day.

Gasoline use in Dec 2005 is 1% above Dec 2004 (a good Christmas), but was alsoe 4% *below* 2004 in previous months ...TOTAL OIL USE FOR 2005 WAS BELOW 2004! FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1990!

Using the same EIA numbers you find that
2004 was 20,728 average, and 2005 was 20,668.
So the headline should read "TOTAL OIL USAGE IN 2005 BELOW 2004."
Check the Dec 30 petroleum status report.

With prices as they are, it is likely that petroleum usage in the US will grow slowly if at all (1% increase).
Trumpeting high use because of cold weather in the past month is grossly misleading.


Patrick, if you look at the weekly consumption figures contained in the spreadsheet available at the link, you'll see that's not correct.

While average weekly use spiked in December, it also hit, on an average basis, more than 21 million barrels per day at mulltiple points throughout the year, including three of the weeks in August.

You'll also see that gasoline use was at the upper end of the year's spectrum in December (although not at the highest point).


Patrick, if you look at the weekly consumption figures contained in the spreadsheet available at the link, you'll see that's not correct."

I am well aware, of the numbers, and I am pointing out a key difference between:
(a) describing "2005" usage, and
(b) talking about specific usage for 4-weeks in December of each year.

Those spreadsheet numbers are the '4-week average' numbers for December usage. It is dangerous to put too much weight on it because any 4-week trend could be impacted by weather (as I mentioned) and other factors. For example, we dont know if people demanded alot of gasoline solely because gas was cheaper and they saw the price rising and wanted to fill up before it was too late. Actual weekly usage dropped off as did total oil consumption on dec 30.... my point is, overemphasizing such a minor trend is wrong.

"While average weekly use spiked in December, it also hit, on an average basis, more than 21 million barrels per day at mulltiple points throughout the year, including three of the weeks in August."

Yes, and it is one-sided and misleading not to *also* point out that many times in 2005 it was *below* the 2004 levels, so that, again, FOR THE WHOLE YEAR, 2005 oil consumption was DOWN slightly from 2004.

To have an article about oil consumption and not to mention or even admit this startling point is very misleading!
Isn't it newsworthy that total 2005 oil consumption was less than total 2004 oil consumption?


That is simply incorrect according the data in the spreadsheet--and the spreadsheet is not the "4 week average." You're not downloading the history file. It provides the weekly figures for the total average daily consumption of petroleum, for gasoline, for distallate, etc all the way back to 09 November 1990.

2004 Average of daily consumption by week=20,356.43396
2005 Average of daily consumption by week=20,702.19231


Mike, I'm sorry but the correct data for the *whole year* is in this EIA publication: http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/weekly_petroleum_status_report/current/txt/wpsr.txt

This was the dec 30, 2005 weekly petroleum status report.

It shows that the cumulative data for the who 363 days was
2005 Cumulative Daily Averages: 20,688
2004 Cumulative Daily Averages: 20,728
on the line titled:
"Total Prod Supplied for Domestic Use"

And I went to the link and it shows the ability to select weekly or 4-week-avg data. I did download the history file to check and it was still weekly data. It clearly is showing weekly data,
and I couldnt find yearly cumulations there.

Again, I think it is misleading to say "2005" in the headline when the comparison is not whole-year use but December data.
And if you *think* its yearly data, IMHO you've got yourself confused and/or you are looking at the wrong data set.


Sorry, we clearly disagree.


The EIA has a new report out today which clarifies this issue. It clearly says that U.S. oil consumption FELL in 2005 (from 2004 levels). From http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/contents.html :

"World oil demand growth (Figure 7. World Oil Demand Growth) is expected to increase from 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2005 to 1.6 million bbl/d in 2006, largely because U.S. demand is PROJECTED TO RECOVER FROM A NET DECLINE in 2005 to show growth of 410,000 bbl/d in 2006." (emphasis added)

Patrick's figures are correct, there was a slight decline in 2005. And I agree that this is a remarkable result, especially since U.S. GDP still managed to grow substantially.


Guys, I tell you what. I'll take it up with the EIA directly.

In looking at the report you cite, Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO), Table A5, it does indeed indicate a drop in petroleum consumption from 20.65 mbpd in 2004 to 20.73 mbpd in 2005. (As an aside, the same table shows an *increase* in gasoline, aviation fuel and diesel consumption from 14.08 mbpd to 14.88 mbpd.)

However, if I look at the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2006 (AEO 2006), Table 2, Line 129 "Petroleum Subtotal" of Total Energy Consumption, consumption *increased* from 40.08 to 40.22 quads from 2004 to 2005.

So I'll ask them. If it dropped, we'll write it.

(You should also note that Table A5 projects an increase in demand in 2006 to 21.01 million barrrels per day.)


Heard back from the EIA, and the answer is....both.
December figures showed an increase (source of the post)--Katrina had not yet been factored in. The January STEO shows a decrease, post-Katrina assessment. The figures in different reports are derived from different samples and methodologies, and there is a clear progression in degree of confidence in the data based on the type of report.

New story coming.


Do you think we have thousands of troops riding around on fodder-munching camels? How much fuel per day does our military use, here and abroad? How much do they have to pay? I'd bet nowhere near even $2 a gallon! What sort of effect does Uncle Sam have on our fuel consumption, I wonder? Notice the steeper incline after Mr. Bush declared war? Massing troops and fueling up aircraft carriers do not come cheap.


I was looking to find what is the global avarage diesel consumption. However, I could not find it at all. even the US figure mentioned in this article seems it does not include consumtion outside of us by military and so on. Please help me to find total diesel consumption in the world annually.

Arjun k.c.

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