Demise of U.S. gasoline driving season is premature

The traditional peak for gasoline use in the U.S. from late May to early September remains significant and suggestions that seasonality in demand has faded are premature, the International Energy Agency said.

U.S. gasoline consumption will rise by about 300,000 barrels a day this summer, known as the national driving season, the IEA said. The forecast increase will follow less pronounced seasonal growth in 2008 and 2009, when the global recession affected demand, it said.

The U.S. remains the world’s largest gasoline consumer, with average use of about 8.7 million barrels a day last year, the IEA said today in its monthly Oil Market Report. That’s equivalent to almost 10 percent of global demand and is as large as the combined total consumption of Mexico, Canada, Germany, France and New Zealand, according to the Paris-based agency.

Demand in the U.S. is set to decline by 0.1 percent in 2013 as cars become more fuel-efficient, a pattern that will probably continue in coming years, the IEA said.

“This downwardly sloping trend in U.S. gasoline demand is nevertheless expected to remain consistent with continued seasonality in demand patterns,” the agency said.