EIA Increases Fuel Consumption Estimates, Prices

The Energy Information Administration increased its forecast for 2014 U.S. gasoline demand and retail prices. EIA's latest short-term energy outlook report said domestic gasoline use for 2014 will reach 8.78 million barrels per day, up 0.5 percent from its December forecast but lower than the 2013 daily average of 8.79 million. Retail gasoline prices will be $3.46 per gallon on average, up 3 cents from the December outlook but lower than the 2013 average of $3.51, the EIA said.

For years the per person, average annual fuel consumption has been decreasing. It has dropped below 2008 levels and stayed there. Fuel economy has been increasing, the EPA’s just-released annual report tracking average vehicle fuel economy, the agency announced that model-year 2012 vehicles attained a record fuel economy of 23.6 mpg--the second-largest annual increase in the past three decades. The new CAFÉ standards requiring carmakers to meet 54.5 mpg by 2025 will continue the trend. 

That trend has contributed, in part, to the "blend wall" surrounding ethanol blends. Charles Grundler, head of EPA's Transportation and Air Quality Office, said the blend wall has been reached, and it's unrealistic to expect refiners and retailers to offer E-15 or other blends that the current petroleum infrastructure can't support and that many vehicles cannot use.  

However, ethanol supporters said the EIA's latest projection of increased gasoline demand could mean that the 2014 blending requirements could be increased. The EIA's estimates suggest there may be more gasoline available to blend with ethanol this year. "It would give them adequate room, I think, to raise the renewable mandate by 200 to 300 million gallons," said University of Illinois agricultural economist Scott Irwin. 

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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