US demand for oil, products drops to historic lows


NEW YORK -- US oil demand dropped 2.1% to a 16-year low of 18.555 million bpd last year, the federal Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

Demand for all major petroleum products was lower, led by a near 400,000-bpd decline in gasoline demand. Gasoline use fell 0.6% to an average of 8.703 million bpd, the weakest level in 11 years. Gasoline is the most widely used petroleum product in the world's biggest oil consumer.

Annual US oil use has dropped by 10.8%, or 2.25 million bpd since hitting a peak of 20.8 million bpd in 2005. EIA has said increases in energy efficiency, higher fuel mileage standards for cars, and substitution of natural gas for heating oil in homes and for heavy fuel in some industrial boilers has cut consumption.

In December, US oil use slumped 3.6% from a year earlier, to 18.13 million bpd. That was the weakest December demand since 1993 and the lowest in any month since September 2008, when Gulf Coast hurricanes curbed demand.

Gasoline use fell 3.5% in December from a year earlier to an 11-month low.

Demand for distillate fuel (diesel and heating oil) was down 8.4% from a year earlier, at 3.529 million bpd. Within that figure, demand for ultra-low sulfur fuel, used to run trucks and trains, was 6% lower than a year earlier.

For all of 2012, distillate use was down 4% from a year earlier, with ULSD use down 1.6%.

Jet fuel use inched up 1.5% in December, to 1.373 million bpd, but dropped 1.8% for all of 2012, to a three-year low of 1.399 million bpd.

Dow Jones Newswires

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