February 28, 2017 / 8:45 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. gasoline demand hits record number last year: EIA

Gasoline drips off a nozzle during refueling at a gas station in Altadena, California March 24, 2012. Picture taken March 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. demand for gasoline hit record levels last year, averaging 9.326 million barrels per day, surpassing 2007 levels, according to new monthly figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The surge in gasoline demand in 2016 came amid low pump prices and lower unemployment, but there have been early signs this year that consumer thirst for gasoline is weakening.

Motorists drove a record 3.22 trillion miles (5.2 trillion km) on U.S. roads last year, a 2.8 percent rise from 2015 and the fifth consecutive year of year-over-year increases, federal figures show.

U.S. gasoline demand was up 1.8 percent to 9.3 million bpd in December versus last year. The U.S. accounts for roughly 10 percent of the global demand for gasoline.

Total oil demand in December was up 1.9 percent to 19.98 million bpd, EIA data showed. Total oil demand was at its highest level last year since 2007, EIA data showed.

U.S. distillate demand was up 6 percent to 4.06 million bpd in December versus last year, EIA data showed. Warm weather in 2015 sapped demand for distillates.

Overall, 2016 demand for distillates was 3.9 million bpd, down 2.7 percent from the year prior, EIA data showed.

Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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