Despite rising gas prices, the demand for gasoline in the United States helped refineries reach a new production record in March. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), gasoline production at American refineries topped out at 9.3 million barrels per day and gasoline deliveries were at 9.2 million barrels per day, the highest on record for the month of March. This is close to the single day record of 9.6 million barrels of gasoline delivered daily in July 2007.

Gas prices are on the rise, the government is searching for ways to reduce our dependence on oil — not just foreign oil but all oil — and American refineries set a new production record thanks to a near record demand for gasoline by American consumers. It seems as though summer 2008 is a distant memory to most drivers.

In the spring of 2008, gas prices quickly began to climb and everyone was worried about the price of gas during the peak summer travel months. Sure enough, gas prices set record highs with some parts of the country seeing $5-a-gallon prices. At this time, the demand for the Toyota Prius and other fuel-efficient vehicles went up. In some areas of the country, there was a months-long wait list for a Prius.

Fast forward to winter 2008, and gas prices were back down to more moderate levels. Toyota dealers had Priuses sitting on their lots while the Toyota Tacoma saw an upswing in sales. American consumers' experience with the record high gas prices was quickly fading from memory.

If the demand for energy-efficient vehicles dropped so quickly after the record-setting gas prices in the summer of 2008, it should come as no surprise that today’s consumers aren’t even thinking about what happened two years ago. Despite the recent increase in fuel prices at the pump, the demand for gasoline continues to rise.

John Felmy, chief economist for the API, comments on the increased demand despite the higher prices. “U.S. refineries are doing yeoman’s work meeting consumer demand. Moreover, the record gasoline production in March makes it abundantly clear that supply is not an issue with the higher gasoline prices we’ve seen. Sharply higher crude oil prices are driving that, and they continue to put upward pressure on the price at the pump.” Source: American Petroleum Institute

This record-setting production and near record high delivery comes just before the busy summer travel season. As Americans begin to hit the road to start their summer vacations, U.S. oil refineries may continue to see increases in demand and set even more records.