Relentlessly high crude oil prices are pushing consumption down in Germany and the UK, whose use of fuel was until recently relatively immune to the economic turmoil elsewhere in the European Union, official data cited by the Reuters new agency on Tuesday (11 September) showed.

Concern about the high cost of fuel and its impact on fragile or non-existent growth has led for calls by the United States and some European nations to release reserves to put downward pressure on prices, the news agency's report noted.

An oil price near all-time euro highs, combined with a supply crunch for oil products which has lifted refining margins sky-high, has pushed imports in Germany sharply lower.

BAFA, Germany's foreign trade statistics office said imports of crude oil were down 3.8% year on year in July at 8.1million tonnes. For January to July imports were 2% higher year on year at 52.7m tonnes.

Deliveries of motor fuel here in the UK were down 10.6% year on year in Q2 2012, data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed, though some of the decline was explained by [the panic] purchases in March in advance of a threatened strike by tanker drivers.

In the year to June 2012, motor fuel deliveries were 4.3% lower year on year, the data showed, a slightly bigger decline than the 4% annual fall seen since the year 2000, DECC said.

Diesel consumption fell sharply in Spain in July, with demand falling even during what is usually a busy summer driving season as a tough recession hit, Reuters added.

Automobile diesel consumption fell 6.7% year on year in July to 1.9m tonnes, the same amount as in June, data from Spain's strategic petroleum reserves corporation showed.

In Italy, consumption of refined oil products dropped 5.1% year on year in July to 5.8m tonnes, data from Unione Petrolifera showed.

Petrol consumption fell 6.7% year-on-year to 784,000 tonnes last month, while diesel for road vehicles dropped 5.5% to 2.114m tonnes, UP said in a statement cited by the news agency.

In the first seven months of 2011, demand for oil products fell 9% year on year to 37.728m tonnes, with petrol demand falling 9.8%.