WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- Record high crude oil prices cut U.S. refined product demand in the first half of 2006, though the nation imported more gasoline than ever.
The American Petroleum Institute, in its report on the first six months of the year, Wednesday said U.S. gasoline demand declined in the second quarter by 0.4 percent, contrasting with a 0.5 percent increase in the first quarter.
"Once again we have seen sharp increases in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. And, once again, it is due to the fundamental forces of supply and demand -- tight world markets for crude oil and high prices, a higher cost of refining and distributing gasoline, a switch to ethanol blends and sulfur content changes in diesel fuel," said API Chief Economist John Felmy.
Overall, U.S. refined product demand slumped 1.3 percent in the first six months of 2006. The exception was for on-highway diesel fuel.
Gasoline imports soared to a record 1.26 million barrels per day, 18.8 percent above the first half of 2005. Total refined product imports in the first six months of the year were more than 12 percent above year-ago levels.