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High Prices, Not Virus, Seen Curbing U.S. Summer Driving Demand

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© Bloomberg. Vehicles on Highway 101 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to give $400 to every car owner to offset record-high gasoline prices has prompted criticism that it undercuts the states aggressive climate goals. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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(Bloomberg) — Americans are expected to drive more this summer than they did last year, even with higher prices limiting some travel.

U.S. drivers are expected to burn through 9.2 million barrels a day of gasoline from April to September, up by 0.8% from the same time last year but 3.5% lower than it was in 2019, according to the Energy Information Administration’s summer fuels outlook. Meanwhile, the average gasoline retail price is expected to be $3.84 a gallon, the highest since summer 2014 after adjusting for inflation, the report shows. 

Fuel demand is being watched closely in the world’s biggest oil consuming nation as soaring prices at the pump threaten to limit further growth in consumption. Surging gasoline costs have also contributed to rising U.S. inflation rates, underscoring high costs of living and posing a political challenge for the Biden administration.  

Rising employment and easing virus cases will drive an annual increase of 2.5% in vehicle miles traveled. Still, high prices may limit recreational travel, according to the EIA. The most significant effects of the pandemic on commuting have largely dissipated, according to the report. 

Gasoline supply is expected to remain ample and end the summer at 233.6 million barrels, 2.9% more than last year and 1.6% more than the fiver-year average.

Diesel consumption this summer will surpass the same period last year and match 2019 levels, supported by demand for trucking, home delivery and distribution of goods, the report said. Distillates inventories will end the summer 9% less than the five-year average. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

High Prices, Not Virus, Seen Curbing U.S. Summer Driving Demand

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