U.S. Gasoline Use May Grow 1.2 Percent in 2012, Lundberg Says

U.S. gasoline demand may rise 1.2 percent this year as the number of licensed drivers increases, according Lundberg Survey Inc.

Taxable gasoline sales in the U.S. may total 372.46 million gallons a day, or 8.87 million barrels a day, this year, up from 368.04 million gallons daily in 2011, according to a report yesterday. That contrasts with a government estimate that demand at the wholesale level will fall 0.8 percent in 2012.

The projection is also based on demand growth reported by the American Petroleum Institute and higher first-quarter sales by retailers including Valero Energy Corp., Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said today in a telephone interview.

“That’s why we’re able to project with confidence there will be growth,” Lundberg said.

The industry-funded API reported on April 20 that gasoline demand through the first quarter was up 0.4 percent over the prior year to 8.64 million barrels a day.

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration yesterday projected that 2012 consumption will fall to 8.67 million barrels a day from 8.74 million in 2011. The forecast is 20,000 barrels a day higher than last month’s projection.

Lundberg said her company’s outlook for increased demand is not based on falling prices at the pump.

“I’m not assured we will have the price crash that will prevent this year from having an all-time record price average,” Lundberg said. “We did not suppose it would in order to support the idea that demand is growing this year.”

A survey of about 2,500 gasoline stations by the Camarillo, California-based, company, shows the highest average pump price this year was $3.9671 reached in the week ended April 6. The average was down to $3.8542 a gallon as of May 4, according to Lundberg.

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