Consumer demand for gasoline at the pump apparently slackened last month as a result of the rise in prices triggered by Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of oil-rich Kuwait, the oil industry reports.
"We believe that some demand response to higher prices may be apparent for gasoline," as a result of the rise in retail prices of 25 cents, or 20 percent, since July, the American Petroleum Institute said.Some of September's 1.5 percent decline in refinery deliveries from a year ago could be explained by normal variations in monthly data, the API said in its monthly statistical report. September daily deliveries averaged 7.1 million barrels, or 294.2 million gallons, it said.
There is no direct method of measuring consumption precisely since unknown quantities of deliveries wind up in the storage tanks of refiners, wholesale distributors and station owners.
But based on historical data, "we estimate that the increase in retail prices over the past two months would have led to a short-term response in consumption amounting to a 0.5 to 1 percent decline," the report said.
September's 1.5 percent drop in deliveries also exceeded the 0.9 percent year-to-year average monthly 1990 decline through July, it noted.
In addition, September gasoline deliveries were 8 percent less than August compared to the normal 5-6 percent seasonal monthly decline at the end of the summer driving season, the API reported.