By DAVID BIRD
US oil demand will fall to a 15-year low of 18.77 million bpd this year, led by a drop in gasoline demand to an 11-year low, government forecasters said Tuesday.
In its monthly update to the short-term energy outlook, the Energy Information Administration cut its demand outlook for the current year in the world's biggest oil consumer by 100,000 bpd from a month earlier.
That downward revision turned a flicker of growth in oil demand into a second straight year of decline, and the sixth of the last seven years.
Gasoline use is expected to average 8.67 million bpd this year, down 0.8% from a year ago and a 0.5% downward revision from the month-earlier forecast, amid a 7.4% rise in prices to a record annual average of $3.79 a gallon.
In 2013, the EIA said, US demand is expected to rise 0.6%, to 18.88 million bpd, despite a further slim decline in gasoline demand.
In the current quarter, US demand is expected to average 18.48 million bpd, down 3.2% from a year earlier.
The forecast for the current quarter was revised down 1.1% from a month earlier, with revisions in demand for gasoline, distillate fuel (diesel/heating oil) and jet fuel.
Second-quarter demand was revised down from a month ago to show a slim 0.4% rise, mostly on a 1.9% rise in distillate demand, partly offset by declines in gasoline and jet fuel.
Second-quarter oil demand is expected to average 18.83 million bpd, up 80,000 bpd from a year ago.
Diesel fuel prices are expected to average a record $4.15 a gallon at the pump, and 8.1% higher than a year ago.
US refiners will pay a record price above $115/bbl for imported crude this year, and a record of about $114.50/bbl on average for combined imported and domestic oil.
Those prices are up about 12% from a year ago.
US gross domestic product is expected to grow at a 2.2% rate this year, up from 1.7% growth in 2011. For 2013, the growth rate will be 2.4%.
The 2012 figure is an upward revision from the February forecast, which called for 2% growth following 1.8% growth in 2011.
Dow Jones Newswires