124,000 barrels of oil a day sure sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

It is, until you compare it to the average daily U.S. oil consumption, which is around 8.5 million barrels a day (bbl/d). At least, 8.5 million was the number in the first quarter of 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2012, it was 124,000 bbl/d lower (around 8.4 million bbl/d). The drop is due to many factors, including improved vehicle efficiency and lower household gasoline consumption.

The final figures are not out yet, but the EIA thinks the second quarter of 2012 might reveal a slight increase compared to Q1 but that, overall, the amount of gasoline that the U.S. burns every day is currently well below the 5-year range of 2007-2011, as you can see in the chart above.

In announcing the low usage rates, the EIA also offered up the follow numbers, which we think should be filed away for future discussions:
  • U.S. gasoline consumption peaked in 2007 at 9.3 million (!) bbl/d.
  • In 2011, the average price for a gallon of gas was 74 cents higher than it was in 2010.
  • For the first three months of 2012, the average price for a gallon of gas was 31 cents higher than for the same period in 2011.
See more tidbits below.