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US gasoline demand may have already peaked: EIA

07 Jun 2016 19:12 (+01:00 GMT)
US gasoline demand may have already peaked: EIA

Houston, 7 June (Argus) — US gasoline consumption may have already peaked but demand remains on pace for a record year, according to the latest Energy Information Administration data.

The EIA still expects gasoline consumption to average 9.33mn b/d in 2016, eclipsing the previous record average of 9.29mn b/d set in 2007, according to the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). But the best months for demand may already be behind US refiners.

US gasoline consumption passed 9mn b/d in February for the first time since 2007 and reached 9.4mn b/d in March for the first time in 71 years of monthly data, according to the EIA. Consumption averaged 9.61mn b/d in May, according to the outlook.

The agency expects June consumption to average 9.53mn b/d and July consumption to average 9.56mn b/d. Demand will continue to hold above 9mn b/d but trail down through December, according to the June outlook.

Gasoline futures yesterday settled at their lowest levels for the second week of June in at least a decade, based on Nymex data.

EIA also raised the expected average summer retail gasoline price higher by 6¢/USG to $2.27/USG, compared to last month's outlook. The 3pc rise followed an increase in crude prices. The retail average will peak in June at $2.36/USG before falling through the second half of the year, according to the EIA outlook.

US distillate consumption meanwhile increased from the May expectation, by 1pc for 2016. The agency expects first quarter consumption was almost 2pc higher than the May outlook, at 3.9mn b/d, and that fourth quarter consumption would be higher by 40,000 b/d from the May outlook, at 3.98mn b/d.