EIA: U.S. 7-Month Oil Use Biggest Fall Since '80

Dow Jones Newswires

NEW YORK (Dow Jones Newswires), September 30, 2008

U.S. oil demand in July averaged 19.412 million barrels a day, the lowest for any month since May 2003, and 1.335 million barrels a day below the year-ago level, revised data released Tuesday show.

The 6.4% year-on-year decline is a sharp revision from earlier estimates, which showed demand dropping just 2.9%, or 599,000 barrels a day to 20.148 million barrels a day.

In the weak U.S. economy, suffering under the impact of high oil prices, the estimated figure would have been considered a bright spot, as it would have shown the highest monthly demand figure since December 2007.

Instead, the revised figures show a continued, and accelerating, drop off in oil demand.

The 1.335 million barrels a day year-on-year decline in July is the largest since February, and follows a 1.17 million barrels a day, or 5.6%, decline in June.

In the first seven months of 2008, demand in the world's largest oil consumer averaged 19.727 million barrels a day, down 4.8%, or 992,571 barrels a day from a year ago. The outright level of January-July demand is the lowest since 2002, while the fall off in demand is the biggest in the period since 1980.

Demand for gasoline, the most widely used petroleum product, was revised down to 9.072 million barrels a day, a 5.9%, or 568,000 barrels a day, decline from a year ago.

Gasoline demand was narrowly above the June level of 9.071 million barrels a day, and was the weakest in July since 2001. Estimated data had shown gasoline demand averaged 9.4 million barrels a day in the month, for a drop of just 2.5%, or 237,000 barrels a day.

Demand for distillate fuel (heating oil and diesel) was revised down sharply to 3.672 million barrels a day, a drop of 8.8%, or 354,000 barrels a day, from a year earlier. That is the weakest level for any month since May 2003.

Estimated data showed distillate demand of 4.151 million barrels a day, a rise of 3%, or 125,000 barrels a day from a year ago. That would have been the strongest level for any month since February and a record high for July.  

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