Average U.S. Gas Prices Up Two Cents for the Week

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, November 9, 2015) The national average price of gas has increased by two cents over the past week to $2.22 per gallon. Despite the slight increase in average pump prices, drivers continue to benefit from substantial discounts compared to recent years. Today’s average represents the lowest price for this same date since 2006. Consumers are saving 10 cents per gallon month-over-month and 72 cents per gallon year-over-year. The national average has moved lower for 24 of the past 30 days and is down 59 cents per gallon versus the 2015 peak price reached in June ($2.80).

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This year’s autumn refinery maintenance season continues to make headlines for its impact on regional markets. Refinery utilization is reportedly beginning to return to normal rates; however, select regional markets are still under pressure as a result of the sheer volume of planned maintenance combined with unplanned outages. The Midwest is recovering from the fall turnaround season and despite reports of restarts, the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy puts gasoline production and the overall utilization rate at virtually the same levels as prior weeks. Chevron’s Richmond, California refinery, which is reportedly undergoing the largest turnaround work in the refinery’s history, also reported a major unit shutdown. Prior to news of this unplanned outage, the refinery was in the midst of work estimated to last around 80 days, which included maintenance to the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracker. Although gasoline demand typically retreats during the month of November, which could offset any major spikes in price due to supply shortages, unplanned outages could create volatility and put pressure on the national average in the near term.

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Drivers in six states are paying an average below $2 per gallon, and consumers in South Carolina ($1.95) and Alabama ($1.96) continue to pay the lowest prices at the pump. Hawaii ($2.87) is the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline, and it is joined by regional neighbors California ($2.84), Nevada ($2.71), Washington ($2.51) and Oregon ($2.40) as the top five most expensive markets. For the sixth consecutive week, all statewide averages are below $3 per gallon and only four states are posting averages above $2.50 per gallon.

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Weekly price comparisons reflect volatility with prices moving by double-digit increments at both ends of the spectrum. Retail averages in the majority of states (31) have moved higher week-over-week, and prices in 16 states have increased by a nickel or more per gallon over this same period. The largest increases have been in Delaware (+14 cents), Kentucky (+11 cents) and Oregon (+10 cents). On the other end of the spectrum, pump prices are down in 19 states week-over-week. The Midwestern states of Ohio (-11 cents) and Indiana (-11 cents) are posting weekly discounts in the double digits and they headline the seven states where prices are more than a nickel per gallon less at the pump.

The vast majority of consumers continue to benefit from relative savings in the price of retail gasoline month-over-month. Pump prices are down in 47 states and Washington, D.C. over this same period, and averages in 23 states are discounted by more than a dime per gallon. Motorists in ten states are saving more than a quarter per gallon in the cost to refuel their vehicles with the largest savings in Alaska (-37 cents), Indiana (-31 cents) and Ohio (-30 cents). Drivers in three states are paying a bit more to refuel their vehicles in comparison to one month ago, though prices in these states have moved in a much less dramatic fashion. Averages are up in New Jersey, Oregon and Pennsylvania by fractions of a penny month-over-month.

Consumers nationwide continue experience yearly savings at the pump, but the magnitude of the discount is beginning to shrink. Prices are down by $1 or more in two states, Alaska (-$1.23) and Hawaii (-$1.12), and drivers in 20 states and Washington, D.C. are saving more than 75 cents per gallon year-over-year.

Both crude oil benchmarks, Brent and West Texas Intermediate, closed out this past week with three days of losses due to reports of a strengthening U.S. dollar, which further fueled expectations that the market’s current oversupply will continue in the near term. Market watchers are paying close attention to economic data from China and movements in the U.S. dollar, to get a sense of the overall market’s direction. OPEC’s Secretary recently issued comments touting the cartel’s success at sustaining its market share in light of a lower price environment and stated the expectation that the market will return to balance in the coming year. The cartel plans to convene on December 4 to discuss its strategy moving forward.

The domestic oil market is showing mixed signals for the near-term. Drilling activity reportedly reached its lowest point since June 2010, and the latest reports from the Bureau of Land Management show that oil and gas extraction shed 2,700 jobs during the month of October. Despite this decline in drilling, total crude inventories in the U.S. continue to build and are within 10 million barrels of the record amount reached last spring, which contributes to the downward pressure on prices.

WTI opened this week trading higher, following news that the U.S. oil rig count fell for the tenth consecutive week. This offsets some of the losses seen last week after WTI closed Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX down 91 cents at $44.29 per barrel.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

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