NEW YORK - U.S. oil demand is expected to inch up by a modest 0.3% in 2013 and 2014, after falling 1.6% to a 15-year low in 2012, government forecasters said Tuesday.
Demand is expected to grow to 18.71 million barrels a day in 2013, from 18.65 million barrels a day in 2012.
Projected demand in 2014 of 18.77 million barrels a day still would lag the 2011 level.
Demand for gasoline - the most widely used petroleum product in the world's biggest oil consumer - is expected to flatten out at the 2012 level of 8.73 million barrels a day through 2014 as the impact of slow growth in the driving-age population, retirement of less-fuel efficient vehicles and improvement in fuel-economy standards take hold.
Demand slipped in 2012 by 0.2%, the third straight decline, hitting an 11-year low.
The EIA said all of the major petroleum categories contributed to the slide in consumption in 2012 despite a continued economic recovery and little change in year-over-year inflation-adjusted retail fuel prices.
Most of the consumption growth in 2013 and 2014 is expected to comes from distillate fuel oil -- an umbrella grouping of diesel fuel and heating oil -- and from liquefied petroleum gas. Gains in these products will come from "continued growth in industrial use as well as the assumption of near-normal weather this winter compared with much warmer-than-normal weather last winter," the EIA said.
Distillate use is expected to grow 0.8% in 2013 and 2014, after a 3.3% fall in 2012, to 3.77 million barrels a day, a three-year low.
U.S. crude oil output, led by a gains in production from shale-oil fields tapped by new techniques, is expected to rise 14.1% in 2013, to 7.3 million barrels a day. A further 8.2% rise in 2014 is expected to put output at 7.9 million barrels, the highest since 1988.
Output from in the federal Gulf of Mexico is expected to drop 60,000 barrels a day in 2012, to average 1.26 million barrels a day. Production is expected to climb to 1.37 million barrels a day in 2013, and to 1.44 million barrels a day in 2014, as new projects ramp up.
Since peaking in 2005 at 12.5 million barrels a day, U.S. net oil imports, including crude oil, have been falling, the EIA said. Net imports declined to 7.5 million bbl/d in 2012, and EIA expects imports to continue dropping, to 6 million barrels a day in 2014.
The share of total U.S. consumption met by net fuel imports peaked at more than 60% in 2005 and fell to an average of 40% in 2012, and EIA expects the net import share to average 32% in 2014 because of continued substantial increases in domestic crude oil production.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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