Global gasoline demand has all but peaked

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❝ After fueling the 20th century automobile culture that reshaped cities and defined modern life, gasoline has had its day.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that global gasoline consumption has all but peaked as more efficient cars and the advent of electric vehicles from new players such as Tesla Motors halt demand growth in the next 25 years. That shift will have profound consequences for the oil-refining industry because gasoline accounts for one in four barrels consumed worldwide…

“Electric cars are happening,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in an interview in London, adding that their number will rise from little more than 1 million last year to more than 150 million by 2040.

❝ The cresting of gasoline demand shows how rapidly the oil landscape is changing, casting a shadow over an industry that commonly forecasts decades of growth ahead. Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s second-biggest energy company by market value, shocked rivals this month when a senior executive said overall oil demand could peak in as little as five years.

The IEA doesn’t share Shell’s pessimism. While the agency anticipates a gasoline peak, it still forecasts overall oil demand growing for several decades because of higher consumption of diesel, fuel oil and jet fuel by the shipping, trucking, aviation and petrochemical industries…

❝ For Philip Verleger, president of the consultant PKVerleger LLC in Colorado and a veteran oil-market analyst, the IEA’s outlook is one of the more optimistic outcomes for the global industry.

“Refiners across the globe can only hope that this forecast turns out to be right — because all the indications are today that consumption is going to begin dropping not in 2030, but probably in 2020,” said Verleger. “It’s the best news a dying patient can hope to get.”

Just in case you wondered what the truly global giants of fossil fuels talk about when they tell each other the truth. Quit reading PR releases from the American Petroleum Institute, the Koch Bros. or their flunky on Fifth Avenue.

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