* 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 demand)
By David Sheppard and Timothy Gardner
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) - 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 David Gregorio)