U.S. oil demand is dwindling. According the American Petroleum Institute, 2008 domestic petroleum demand sagged to the lowest level since 2003, due to stratospheric prices early in the year and a suffering economy in the latter half of 2008. Petroleum deliveries were 19.4 million barrels per day in 2008, a 6% decline from 2007 levels. Drops were seen across all major products, including gasoline, distillate fuel oil, jet fuel and residual fuel oil. The 1.2-million-barrel-per-day slump in U.S. demand was hefty enough to offset demand growth in developing countries. According to API, domestic production of crude was less than 5 million barrels a day last year, a level not touched since 1946. Major oil-producing regions Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico both contributed to the production fall; Alaskan fields are aging, and Gulf of Mexico oil was forced off line by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Imports of crude oil and products also fell in 2008, to a five-year low of 12.9 million barrels per day. Crude imports alone were less than 10 million barrels a day. --by Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor Contact me at pwilliams@hartenergy.com