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The mid-summer surge in gasoline demand


It wasn’t expected to happen. More fuel-efficient vehicles, poor late spring weather and even shifting driving patterns by millennials were just some of the explanations thought to be at the core of why summer driving demand for fuel got off to such a slow start. But the early indicators of robust demand were already established in advance.

The GasBuddy Summer Travel Study published almost 3 months ago in mid-May foreshadowed this week’s revelation of record breaking demand, noting that of those surveyed, “82% said they would take a road trip this summer, a 7 percent increase from last year and a 9 percent increase compared to 2015, with a majority (70 percent) planning to make at least two trips”. In canvassing our followers, the mood was outright positive with both lower gas prices and a stronger economy cited as the main reasons for more trips.

Oil refinery runs this week in the U.S. hit an impressive 17.4 million barrels per day and at 95.4 percent of capacity, according to the latest weekly data collected by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its weekly petroleum status report, offsetting the 20,000 barrel a day increase in domestic oil production. As for gasoline consumption, itself, a record 9.842 million barrels a day was used by drivers last week, signaling the very real prospect that American motorists might now post a record streak in demand stretching back four years in a row.

The bullish news on oil and gasoline isn’t confined to the U.S alone. Yesterday, the energy research institute JBC Energy revised its January world oil demand for 2017, forecasting global consumption will increase 360,000 barrels per day this year to an overall projected increase of 1.46 million bpd. Stronger trade and an improving world economy emerging from several years of flat demand suggest oil and petroleum products aren’t about to be supplanted anytime soon.

With about four weeks remaining to the summer of 2017 and improving weather prospects, higher prices for oil and fuel may begin to affect pump prices noticeably for those taking late summer road trips. Your best hedge for anticipating and avoiding these increases is your GasBuddy app that you can download for free on your smartphone. While rising pump prices are inevitable, so too are the savings you’ll get using it to find the best prices en route to your destination.

Senior Petroleum Analyst, Canada

Dan is a skilled and noted bilingual (French and English) consumer advocate specializing in energy and current affairs. Known as Canada's “Gas Guru,” he founded to better help motorists anticipate the price of gasoline in advance across Canada. He has over three decades of experience in the petroleum industry, as a parliamentarian and an analyst.