NEW YORK - Demand for premium unleaded gasoline, one of the oil industry's most profitable products and the crown jewel of its marketing effort, has declined sharply, perhaps by 20 percent from 1990.
When retail gasoline prices spiked after the invasion of Kuwait and premium crossed $1.50 a gallon, "people just absolutely quit buying the stuff," said Jim Snyder, regional manager for Ashland Oil Co. in Baltimore.
"You're seeing supply and demand at work," said George Shackelford, business manager of light products for Amoco Oil Co., Chicago.
He estimates that industrywide, demand for premium grade gasoline is off about 15 percent to 20 percent for the first few weeks of 1991 compared with a year earlier. He declined to specifically discuss Amoco's sales.