Nobody's filling up on gas, API says

Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:23 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Slow consumer spending in the United States was in part to blame for weakness in the gasoline sector, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Petroleum deliveries to the United States declined 1.2 percent to around 18.9 million barrels per day last year when compared with 2010. This, the API said, represented the largest decline in deliveries in the past decade, apart from 2008 when the onset of the global recession erased more than $100 from the price of oil per barrel.

API Chief Economist John Felmy said the decline was readily apparent in the gasoline sector.

"The weakness in gasoline demand in 2011 reflected the overall weakness in consumer spending," he said in a statement. "This carried through the year, with retail sales down in December and gasoline demand slipping more than 4 percent for the month."

Total petroleum deliveries for December were the lowest in 15 years at around 18.6 million barrels per day.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in its January report predicted the U.S. economy was recovering, though growth for 2012 was expected at around 2 percent.

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