I came across an interesting article by Alan Reynolds on the Cato site:
We import nearly 58 percent of all petroleum, yet only 45 percent of each barrel is used to produce gasoline, and a significant portion of that gasoline is used in delivery vans and taxis. Commuter and leisure driving accounts for little more than 40 percent of the oil we consume — far less than the amount we import. The rest of each barrel of crude is used for heating oil and diesel fuel for trucks, busses, farm machinery and ships (23 percent), petrochemicals (17 percent), jet fuel (9 percent), asphalt (4 percent) and propane (4 percent).
The U.S. index of industrial production peaked at 116.4 in June 2000 and then fell to 109.1 by December 2001; the price of West Texas crude simultaneously fell from $32 to $19. U.S. Industrial demand for petrochemicals declined, and so did the related need for fuel used to transport industrial supplies and products.
Similar effects were magnified worldwide. Falling industrial production in any region has the same effect on oil prices, so crude fell from $25 to $12 in the wake of the Asian currency crisis of 1997-98.
Nobody in Washington shows the slightest awareness of the global nature of the oil market, of the fact that industrial damage from high oil prices has nothing to do with whether a country imports or exports oil, or even the fact that there is a crucial two-way linkage between worldwide industrial production and worldwide oil prices. When it comes to causes and effects of high oil prices, nobody in Washington shows much interest in logic or facts. It might be sad if it wasn’t so pathologically pathetic.