Following decades of rapid growth, consumption fell by more than 12 percent between 2004 and 2011
By Colleen Kelly and Scott McKee
For most of the last three decades, the United States’ demand for petroleum seemed insatiable, presenting a likely future of greater consumption for years to come. From 1983 to 2004, U.S. petroleum consumption grew by more 35 percent, peaking at 20.6 million barrels/day in 2004. Concern for increasing domestic petroleum consumption was pervasive, largely because of the financial, security, and environmental implications of this burgeoning oil use.
However, U.S. petroleum consumption peaked in 2004 and started to decline. From 2004 to 2011, the United States reduced petroleum consumption by more than 12 percent to 17.9 million barrels/day in 2011, as seen in the figure below.* This decrease can largely be attributed to high oil prices, an economic recession, improved fuel economy, and competition from alternative fuels. U.S. crude oil imports have followed a similar trajectory, dropping 16 percent from 2005 to 2012.**