How coronavirus surge, nearing election affects gasoline demand

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gasoline demand Wednesday was down 8.1% from a week prior, according to Pay with GasBuddy data, while the first four days of the week were down 3.45% from the same period last week.

GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis Patrick De Haan shared that data on his Twitter account this week.

“It’s normal to see some volatility between days,” De Haan explained to News 8 Friday. “Fridays tends to be the day most Americans fill up, probably because Friday is pay day for many. Whereas earlier in the week, we tend to see lower demand numbers, but right now, of course, with coronavirus cases surging, with states implementing new restrictions, it seems to have some effect and that shows up in that daily gasoline demand data.”

Another factor that needs to be weighed in is the time of year, De Haan added.

“So, on a typical summer day, Americans will consume probably close to 9.8 million barrels of gasoline. During a typical fall day, normally that slips to maybe 9.1, 9.2 (million). The numbers we’ve been seeing lately are in the low 8-million-barrels-per-day range, so we’re still a good healthy chunk below last year,” he said. “A typical year we would still be seeing demand… probably 10% to 15% higher than where we are now and keep in mind these new restrictions are just starting to take effect in some of these areas. So we may start to see more cause for concern in the days ahead if Americans are pumping less.”

The analyst also commented on the impact the election could have at the pump.

“Traditionally presidents don’t have much control over prices, but in the last 5 to 10 years the discussion about the environment, moving away from fossil fuels started to enter the equation. So there’s a little bit more of a difference between candidates between how they feel about oil and fossil fuels and we all know the delicate balance,” De Haan explained. “If there’s a hurricane prices can go up; if there’s an impact on supply or demand, it can alter gas prices. So keep in mind depending on who’s elected and what their agenda looks like, that could certainly have more of an affect than say 10 years ago moving forward.”

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