As we say goodbye to three pandemic summers, this Independence Day weekend is set to witness a record-breaking number of Americans hitting the road. The reason? People’s desire for freedom, years of waiting to travel, and fuel prices significantly cheaper compared to last year’s prices. Despite surging travel, though, gasoline demand may not keep up with the hype.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) forecast, more than 43 million motorists will travel around 50 miles or more on July 4th, marking a new high and a 4% increase from 2019 numbers. In fact, when including planes, buses, cruise ships, and trains, the five-day period from Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4, the number could easily hit a monumental 50.7 million Americans on the move.
Despite the record-breaking numbers, analysts expect that demand this year will stay below 2019 levels. The shift toward more efficient vehicles has led to a decrease in oil demand and it might never bounce back to the levels seen before the pandemic. Recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals the largest yearly increase in the fuel efficiency of U.S. vehicles in more than ten years, with the average car now covering 32 miles per gallon.
We have seen a similar trend played out over the recent Memorial Day weekend. “Even though AAA had predicted a 6% rise in travelers, US drivers consumed 1.5% less gasoline compared with the previous year, reported Patrick De Haan, Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy, quoted in a Bloomberg article.
Although gasoline could potentially have peaked and be set for a period of decline, don’t write off the rest of the petroleum industry. As noted in a recent speaking segment by Mansfield CEO Michael Mansfield, overall petroleum demand in 2050 will still be 97% of today’s demand despite the rise of renewables. Diesel, jet fuel, petrochemicals and more will continue to dominate America’s energy landscape for decades, even as gasoline demand slowly weakens.
As we prepare to celebrate freedom and independence, we stay optimistic about the industry’s capacity to keep pace with these changing times. With a resilient spirit and the dedicated efforts of all involved, it will continue fueling our journeys and keep the wheels of progress turning.
Happy July 4th, America!
This article is from https://mansfield.energy