2011 July 22

The Master Resource Report  2011-07-22

No encore from the IEA.    (page 1 )

The EIA – no worries.    (page 1 )

U.S. diesel exports.   (page 2 )

Vehicle resale values.   (page 2 )

LNG exporter becomes importer.   (page 3 )

U.S. gasoline consumption YTD

The peak summer demand period is about half over in the U.S. so it is time to take a look at the gasoline price and consumption data. Here is the frequently shown graph comparing the average price per year and consumption in millions of gallons per day since 2004. The 2011 averages represent year-to-date through last Friday.

Buried in the data is a trend towards lower consumption. Year-over-year consumption is now slipping behind last year and is beginning to trend further below the average YTD level for the peak years 2006-08 at 97.5%. The cost of gasoline may be beginning to bite the consumer. After all the YTD average price of gasoline is $0.31per gallon above 2008 average of $3.30 per gallon.

Click image for larger view.

This subtle trend indicating consumer stress is being reflected in consumer spending patterns like the use of credit cards for necessities reported by Bloomberg. “Consumers, particularly in the lower-income end, are being forced to use their credit cards for everyday spending like gas and food,” said Tavares, who’s based in Atlanta. “That’s because there’s been no other positive catalyst, like an increase in wages, to offset higher prices. It’s a cash-flow problem.”

The Bloomberg article went on to report that “The volume of gasoline purchases placed on credit cards jumped 39 percent last month from a year earlier…”

Slowly portions of the U.S. population are slipping off the use of fossil fuels as the price zigs and zags higher. This is now becoming a permanent trend with many of those consumers never to return to the level of fuel use they previously had. The consequences of this shift will bring with it both economic and political pressure in the years ahead.