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Page added on June 25, 2013

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How America Stopped Using 2 Million Barrels of Oil Each Day

In a recent post I noted that the decline in US oil use had been a big player in the recent fall in US carbon emissions.

In fact America is using two million barrels a day less oil than it did in 2005.  As some commenters noted in the last post we can get a better understanding of the decline by splitting it into fuel types.

Here’s the data, in a live format format no less:

US oil consumption declined by 2.2 million barrels per day between 2005 and 2012.  Although not as large as the drop during the second oil crisis the 11% fall in consumption is dramatic.

We can break the consumption out into different fuel types, in this case a group of industrial petroleum products are brough together.


This chart is useful in that it gives us an idea of how America uses oil. We see that gasoline is the big source of demand, while industrial uses and distillate other the other major ones.

Furthermore we can see the obvious dip in the use gasoline, distilate and industrial oil use that occured in 2008 and 2009.  A period in which the economy was sharply contracting and oil prices had just shot up.

Finally, if we break out the declines in oil consumption we can see where those two million barrels per day went:


Here we see the drop in petroleum use was widespread, with industrial uses and fuel oil consumption falling considerably, but gasoline, distilate and jet fuel also down a lot.

So that’s what the data say, anyone who knows their oil care to explain the drivers?

As I did in the previous post I would posit that oil prices have been significant driver of the decline in petroleum use.  That said the contribution of the recession and efficiency should not be overlooked.

energy collective

11 Comments on "How America Stopped Using 2 Million Barrels of Oil Each Day"

  1. Stephen on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 3:51 am 

    I think this reduction in oil use is the result of a weak economy, more conservation efforts, higher fuel prices, wages going down, job losses, the foreclosure crisis, increased fuel efficency in terms of cars, more shift toward Intermodal rail over trucks, government austerity measures, the growing organic and slow food movements, increased use of biofuels, declines in the number of miles driven, the high cost of air travel, and a lot more.

  2. Norm on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 5:26 am 

    mebbe its cuz rednecks had to park their 4×4’s when constructin slowed down.

  3. BillT on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 6:19 am 

    Simple … No money, no gas purchases.

    If we counted all of the oil based products we import, our oil use would be over 20M bbls/day. But we exported that oil to Asia in the form of Walmart dollars and we also sent them the pollution manufacturing them causes.

  4. westexas on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 10:54 am 

    EIA data show that what I define as Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) have been below the 2005 rate for seven straight years, with the developing countries, led by China, consuming (so fart at least) an increasing share of a post-2005 declining volume of GNE.

    I define Available Net Exports (ANE) as GNE less Chindia’s Net Imports (China + India). ANE fell from about 41 mbpd in 2005 to 34 mbpd (million barrels per day) in 2012, an average annual decline of one mbpd per year in the volume of exported oil availalble to importers other than China and India.

    I examined this topic in the following paper on what I call the Export Capacity Index (not yet updated with 2012 data):

    While the current increase in US crude oil production is helpful, the steady increase in the decline rate from existing production means that the US oil and gas industry is facing enormous challenges in just trying to maintain current production levels, and in all likelihood we will continue to see an “Undulating Decline” patter in post-1970 US crude oil production (currently US crude oil production is about 27% below the 1970 peak rate).

    The bottom line for developed net oil importing countries like the US is that (so far at least) we are gradually being shut out of the global market for exported oil, via price rationing.


    GNE = Combined net exports from top 33 net oil exporters in 2005

    Net Exports = Total petroleum liquids + other liquids production less liquids consumption (EIA)

  5. westexas on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 10:55 am 

    needless to say, far not “fart”

  6. TIKIMAN on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 11:47 am 

    Yeah…thats what happens when you’re in a depression, dipshit.

  7. Arthur on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 11:59 am

    Meanwhile, der Spiegel reports about a US study (Duke University im US-Staat North Carolina) that for the first time polution of drinking water has been detected near Marcellus. The amounts are not spectacular high though, but the fracking practice is yet rather new. It could happen that the worst polution will reveal itself long after the end of fracking period, that possibly could last only 10 years or so.

  8. bobinget on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 1:31 pm 

    Without much fan-fare GE launched a two billion dollar fracking research program in Oklahoma.

    GE must believe investing billions in Oklahoma on license-able, exportable, safe technology will bring long term returns. As a shareholder, I agree.

  9. BillT on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 1:45 pm 

    GE manufactured many of the failing nuclear plants. They also are one of the 5 corporations that control news in the US and that don’t pay taxes.

    They will also die when the economy collapses. Couldn’t happen to a better corporation.

  10. Plantagenet on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 5:31 pm 

    Its the weak Obama economy.

  11. dissident on Tue, 25th Jun 2013 5:52 pm 

    There has been very little jobs recovery after 2008, worse than any “recession” since the 1930s. That clearly has a direct bearing on gasoline consumption. Also, gasoline prices are not exactly low and this has an effect on what type of cars people purchase.

    But the fun is only getting started.

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