© Bloomberg. A driver holds a fuel nozzle at a gas station in Sacramento, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 24, 2022. California Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing to send car owners $400 debit cards and partially pause gasoline taxes to address high gas prices.
(Bloomberg) — The US driving season kicked off with the highest year-to-date gasoline demand, but record prices at the pump are preventing a return to pre-pandemic norms.
Americans hit the road over the Memorial Day weekend, consuming 9.2 million barrels a day of gasoline in the process and bringing the best available gauge for short-term demand to its highest level since December, according to the Energy Information Administration. Gasoline demand is still down by around 1% from the same time last year and nearly 6% from the same time in 2019.
Meanwhile, pump prices have been on a tear, hitting record highs nearly every day since mid-April, data from auto club AAA show. The national average is now pennies away from $5 a gallon.
The current consumption rate tracks with the EIA’s forecast for the second quarter, which the agency revised down to reflect the impact of high prices and weaker growth in non-farm jobs, said Matthew French from the agency’s office of energy analysis in an email to Bloomberg.
“Pent-up demand for travel is keeping gasoline consumption from falling faster. That will likely be the case this summer as well,” said Linda Giesecke, an analyst at consultancy ESAI.
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