* January gasoline consumption at lowest since 2001
* U.S. gasoline demand also drops from previous month
* Demand for distillate fuels down in January too
(Recasts, updates gasoline prices, adds details on distillate
By David Sheppard and Timothy Gardner
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, April 2 U.S. oil demand
fell almost 4.5 percent in January from a year earlier, with
high gasoline prices pushing consumption of the fuel down to the
lowest level for the month since 2001, data from the Energy
Information Administration (EIA) showed on M ond ay.
Total oil demand was down by 853,000 bpd or 4.46 percent to
18.27 million bpd, the EIA said in its Petroleum Supply Monthly.
Even that reduced demand exceeded previous estimates by 169,000
barrels per day (bpd).
Gasoline demand fell 225,800 bpd to 8.19 million bpd, the
lowest January demand level in more than a decade. Gasoline
demand also was down by 472,500 bpd from the previous month.
Demand for distillate fuels, which include diesel and
heating oil, was also lower, falling by 157,700 bpd or 4 pct on
January last year to 3.81 million bpd.
Higher prices have weighed on demand in the world's largest
oil consumer. The average price for gasoline at the pump rose to
$3.40 a gallon in January 2012, up by more than 30 cents on last
January due to higher crude prices.
International benchmark Brent crude oil, the price
most commonly used by East Coast and Gulf Coast refiners,
averaged around $110 a barrel in January 2012 compared with $100
in the same month last year.
(Reporting by David Sheppard and Timothy Gardner; Editing by