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November 9, 2023

Florida’s growing population is increasing its fuel consumption

annual population growth and vehicle miles traveled in Florida
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve Economic Data, U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Bloomberg L.P.
Note: Vehicle miles traveled is measured using a 12-month moving average.

Florida’s growing resident population is driving growth in consumption of transportation fuel within the state. Rising fuel consumption has gradually increased waterborne transportation fuel shipments from U.S. Gulf Coast refiners.

Florida is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. The state’s population grew 18% between 2010 and 2022 to an estimated 22.2 million residents. Populations in other East Coast states have also risen but relatively slowly in comparison.

petroleum product routes from U.S. gulf coast to U.S. east coast
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Most of Florida’s fuels arrive by water vessels from refiners on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The state has no direct access to the two major pipelines that serve other East Coast states, Colonial and Products (SE), although some portions of the state receive shipments by truck from Colonial Pipeline spurs that end in southern Georgia. The rest of the state’s fuels are imports, most of which come from Europe.

In 2023, so far, 21% of combined motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, and jet fuel leaving the U.S. Gulf Coast for the East Coast, which includes Florida, were shipped by tanker and barge, compared with 18% in 2010, according to our Petroleum Supply Monthly. Although some tanker and barge shipments occasionally go to other states along the East Coast, almost all tanker and barge shipments go to Florida.

monthly U.S. gulf coast tanker and barge petroleum product shipments to U.S. east coast
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly
Note: Includes total motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, and kerosene-type jet fuel

As of the end of August 2023, 14% of East Coast motor gasoline consumption (measured as product supplied) was provided by tanker and barge movements of motor gasoline from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the East Coast, up from 12% in 2010. Tanker and barge movements of distillate fuel accounted for 11% of East Coast distillate fuel consumption, up from 7% in 2010. Tanker and barge movements of jet fuel accounted for 17% of East Coast jet fuel consumption, up from 11% in 2010.

Factors other than resident population influence driving in Florida and are likely also affecting state-level vehicle miles traveled and motor gasoline consumption trends. These factors include:

  • Size of the working age (age 15 to 64) population
  • Number of employed persons
  • Number and frequency of employees working from home
  • Tourism or other visits from out-of-state residents
  • Number of registered electric vehicles
  • Availability and costs of transportation alternatives to personal cars

Principal contributor: Jeff Barron