Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | September 24, 2012
(WASHINGTON, September 24, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.81, which is 29 cents more expensive than one year ago. The daily national average price has been the highest on record for the calendar day for more than a month. Despite these record highs, prices have begun to decrease following the end to the summer driving season, the resolution of regional supply and distribution issues, and the end of summer-blend gasoline specifications for much of the country on September 15. While it is seven cents more expensive than one month ago, today’s price is a nickel less than one week ago and the daily price has fallen for ten consecutive days. This is the longest such stretch since prices fell for 20 straight days to the summer low of $3.33 on July 2.
For much of the run up in prices from July through mid-September, the steadily rising national average obscured dramatic regional price increases due to supply and distribution issues. These increases were highlighted by a pipeline spill in the Midwest at the end of July; a refinery fire on the West Coast in early August; and Hurricane Isaac making landfall on the Gulf Coast at the end of August. The recent decline in prices, keyed by lower global oil prices, has been more uniform. Prices in all but five states have declined on the week and these states (Colo., Wyo., Hawaii, N.D., and Alaska) have seen prices rise by less than two cents each during this period. This compares to only three states (Mich., Ind., and Ohio) where the average price at the pump has fallen by more than ten cents in the same span. While prices are declining across the country, drivers in seven states are paying an average of more than $4.00 per gallon: Hawaii – $4.42, Calif. – $4.14, Conn. – $4.10, N.Y. – $4.10, Ill. – $4.03, Wash. – $4.02, and Alaska – $4.02.
Historically, gas prices tend to fall from September through Christmas. AAA expects this trend, which has held true for seven of the previous nine years, to continue in 2012 and predicts that the national average price will continue to fall as we approach the end of the year.
For the last several months, rising global crude oil prices have contributed to high gas prices, but that trend has recently reversed. On September 14 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures rallied to a multi-month high of $99 the day after the Federal Reserve announced a third round of Quantitative Easing designed to stimulate the sluggish U.S. economy. Since that peak, markets have returned to a bearish view for economic growth both domestically and globally, and crude prices have tumbled. WTI settled last Thursday at $91.87 per barrel, the lowest price since early August, before moving slightly higher on Friday. At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of WTI crude oil had fallen 96 cents per barrel to settle at $91.93.