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API: US Gasoline Demand Slumps to Lowest May Level Since 2003

US gasoline deliveries for May dipped 0.4% from last year to average 9.05 million barrels per day, the lowest May level since 2003, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report.

This downward movement compared with year-on-year increases for both March 2010 and April 2010 indicates that gasoline demand is more sensitive to higher prices and to the effects of the sluggish economic recovery than distillate and jet fuels, which both saw increased demand in May, compared with previous months.

—API Chief Economist John Felmy

Average regular-grade gasoline prices were 57 cents per gallon higher in May 2010, compared with the same month a year earlier, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

May distillate deliveries surged 7.8% from May 2009, supported by a jump in ultra low sulfur distillate. This was the second consecutive month that distillate deliveries showed upward movement on a year-to-year basis, following 29 months of declines since 2007. Even though May deliveries were up from last year, they averaged just 3.7 million barrels per day, which marked the second lowest May since 2003.

Jet fuel deliveries averaged 1.4 million barrels per day for May, an 8% bump from a year ago and 2.6% higher than April, thanks in part to airline travel demand during the Memorial Day holiday. January-through-May jet fuel deliveries were up 1.6 percent in 2010 relative to 2009.

Meanwhile, the average US refinery utilization rate for April climbed above 86% for the first time this year, moving to the highest level since July 2009. Total motor gasoline production in May was at 9.1 million barrels per day—the highest level for any May, and a continuation of gasoline production trends seen for all five months of this year. With the exception of May 2008 when distillate production stood at 4.5 million barrels per day, May 2010 distillate production of 4.2 million barrels per day was the highest for any May.



What a welcome slump. Could we make it slump more? Too bad other fossil fuel consumptions don't follow.


Harvey - two words: GAS TAX. Democrat president, house and senate...raise the gas tax. If they can pass healthcare the way they did, why not raise the gas tax by $2-5 per gallon? Or just ban it altogether if it so rotten and evil for the planet.

Sanity Chk

The solution to climate change is purely political. The science is clear about the anthropogenic causes and we already have the technology to generate power sustainably.

The problem is nearly half of US representatives are unwilling to face the voters and tell the truth about what's happening and take the steps to make the necessary changes. A committee of 114 Republicans in the House called the $20 billion Gulf oil disaster victims' relief fund a "shakedown." 47 senators voted against the scientific finding that global warming represents a danger to human health (Sen. Murkowski's attack on the Clean Air Act). What the hell is wrong with these people?

To make matters worse, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can spend an unlimited amount on campaign financing. How is the average voter to compete with that? The fact is that we can't do it alone. We must be united in purpose and not sit on the sidelines passively watching the show.

We must do more than post our comments on websites like this. We must take back control of our government - each one of us - by writing to our representatives and letting them know how to vote on the issues that matter. Sign petitions. Call your representatives. Stay informed about the issues they are debating.

Sign up to receive issue updates with the following activism groups:

Gas tax, carbon tax, green tech incentives, higher CAFE standards quicker . . . whatever it takes. WE are the ones who need to make it happen. There are too many idiots obstructing progress to a sustainable future.

Making comments about the problems and offering solutions does raise some awareness but it is too little too late. We must get involved in the political process to change things!



It would be good to never go above the 20 million barrels of oil used again. Before the recession it was 20 million and now about 18 million. It would be nice if peak demand were hit before peak oil, that would show that we understand the situation and are doing something about it.


Yes SJC. I would be ideal to reduce USA consumption to the actual production level of about 6 M barrels/day. A very deep long lasting recession may be required to do that. An accelerated transition to electrified vehicles, machinery, factories and railroads etc could almost to it too. Doubling gas price (from $3 to $6+/gal.) may help for a while and may convince some people to buy more efficient vehicles, i.e. 50+ mpg car instead of 15 mpg dinos but more is needed.


I do not see us getting it down to 6, but just getting rid of OPEC oil would please me after 30 years of just talking about it. The rest of the world could do the same thing. World demand was 87 million barrels per day and production was 85, now demand has gone back to about 80. It would be good if Europe, Japan, China, India and especially the U.S. would really have major programs to use less oil. It would send a message to OPEC that they do not run the world.


OPEC has most of the world's oil export capacity and a huge fraction of the world's reserves. As long as we use oil, OPEC will have a market (and control an ever-increasing fraction of it, as countries like Indonesia and Mexico become importers). The only solution is to get off oil, and liquid fuels in general.


"liquid fuels in general"

M85 can be made from biomass and coal, even the 15% gasoline can be synthesized. That is a liquid fuel that does not use oil. It is much easier and more cost effective to make FFVs that run methanol than EVs with expensive batteries that need to be replaced and take a while to charge. It is easier to have 100 million FFVs running M85 in 10 years than to try to make and sell 100 million EVs in 10 years.


CTL costs in the neighborhood of $4.50/gge, IIRC. Biomass to liquids has the added burden of bulky and hard-to-process inputs which cost quite a bit more per BTU. We are much better off electrifying the bulk of vehicle-miles and making our remaining liquids from something we'd otherwise pay to get rid of, like MSW.

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