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Monday, February 06, 2012 2:26 AM

Huge Plunge In Petroleum and Gasoline Usage

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Inquiring minds are watching a plunge in Petroleum Distillates and Gasoline usage.

Reader Tim Wallace writes

Hello Mish

As I have been telling you recently, there is some unprecedented data coming out in petroleum distillates, and they slap me in the face and tell me we have some very bad economic trends going on, totally out of line with such things as the hopium market - I mean stock market.

This past week I actually had to reformat my graphs as the drop off peak exceeded my bottom number for reporting off peak - a drop of ALMOST 4,000,000 BARRELS PER DAY off the peak usage in our past for this week of the year.

I have added a new graph to my distillates report, a "Graph of Raw Data" to which I have added a polynomial trendline. You can easily see that the plunge is accelerating and more than rivals 2008/09 and in gasoline is greatly exceeding the rate.

An amazing thing to note is that in two out of the last three weeks gasoline usage has dropped below 8,000,000 barrels per day.

The last time usage fell that low was the week of September 21, 2001! And you know what that week was! Prior to that you have to go back to 1996 to have a time period truly consistently below 8,000. We have done it two out of the last three weeks.

The second graph once again shows the year on year change in usage of distillates. The Obama "stimulus" package and Fed monetary actions masked the underlying systemic problems.

The third and final graph shows the changes in usage off the peak year of 2007. Once again you can see the effect of the stimulus and how now we are heading below 2008/09 in an accelerating fashion.

Looking at these numbers I believe we are about to have a surge in unemployment - by the end of April latest, possibly as early as beginning of March.

Petroleum Distillates and Gasoline Usage in Barrels per Day

click on any chart for sharper image

Note that on a best curve fit, petroleum usage is back to 1997 level and gasoline usage is back to 2001 level. Moreover, as Wallace points out, two out of the last three weeks gasoline usage has dropped below 8,000,000 barrels per day.

Year-Over-Year Petroleum and Gasoline Usage (Compared to Peak Usage)

Note the trough of the recent recession, the rebound, and now a sudden plunge in gasoline and petroleum usage once again.

Decline from Peak Usage

A mild winter can explain part of the drop in petroleum usage (heating oil), but it does not explain the declines in gasoline usage or the overall trends.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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