Average Gas Prices Jump Seven Cents to $2.11 per Gallon

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON) Record-high fuel demand, declining refinery production and rising oil costs have pushed the national average price of gas to $2.11 per gallon. Average gas prices have increased seven cents per gallon on the week and prices are up 45 out of the past 55 days for a total of 41 cents per gallon. Despite the recent increases, pump prices are down 33 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year.

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Prices may move higher during the second quarter of the year in select regional markets due to intermittent supply challenges and increased demand for gasoline. The relatively lower price for gasoline is also reportedly prompting more drivers to take to the roads, and the U.S. EIA’s weekly estimates on gasoline consumption are approaching levels typical for the summer months. This increase in driving may put pressure on local gasoline markets and cause prices to move higher if demand outpaces the available supply of gasoline. However, consumers remain poised to benefit from substantial comparative savings as we enter the busy summer driving season, and it is likely that most drivers will pay the cheapest summertime prices in 12 years.

Drivers on the West Coast are paying some of the nation’s highest averages at the pump, and prices have risen as refineries work to meet growing demand. California ($2.78) and Hawaii ($2.60) lead the market and remain the only two states posting retail averages above $2.50. Nevada ($2.45), Washington ($2.32) and Alaska ($2.31) round out the rankings as the nation’s top five most expensive markets for gasoline. The Gulf Coast states of Mississippi ($1.89) and Louisiana ($1.89) are nation’s least expensive markets, and prices in a total of 13 states remain below the $2 per gallon benchmark.

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Consumers in the vast majority of states (49) are paying more at the pump versus one week ago. Pump prices are up by a nickel per gallon or more in 38 states and Washington, D.C. over this period, with the largest jumps occurring in the Midwestern states of Minnesota (+14 cents), Kentucky (+14 cents), Illinois (+14 cents) and Michigan (+12 cents). The latest data from the region points to refinery production dropping to a 2016 low, largely attributed to a number of refineries running at reduced rates due to ongoing and unplanned maintenance. Additionally, the region’s crude oil supply was temporarily reduced as a result of the Keystone pipeline being shut down following a recent leak. In the near term, gas prices could fluctuate in the region as the market seeks balance. Hawaii is the only state to buck this trend of weekly increase, and prices are down in the state by fractions of a penny week-over-week.

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Retail averages are up nationwide month-over-month, and gas prices in 47 states and Washington, D.C. are up by more than a nickel per gallon over this period. Drivers in more than half of states (32) are paying double digit increases at the pump, with the largest jumps in price experienced by drivers in: Utah (+30 cents), Arizona (+26 cents), New Jersey (+26 cents), Connecticut (+26 cents) and Massachusetts (+25 cents).

Year-over-year discounts in the price of retail gasoline persist, and drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. are benefiting from comparative discounts at the pump. Averages are down by a quarter or more per gallon in 48 states and Washington, D.C., and drivers in Alaska (-68 cents), Oregon (-50 cents), Hawaii (-46 cents) and Utah (-46 cents) are saving the most at the pump versus this same date last year.

As largely expected, major oil exporters failed to reach an agreement during the much-anticipated meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC countries over the weekend. Saudi Arabia maintained its previous position not to participate in a production freeze unless all other countries agreed to do the same, and Iran held fast to its word to opt-out of the plan. Attention now turns to other factors that may help bring the market more into balance, including reports and projections of global crude oil demand and any news from the U.S. that may also potentially impact prices.

U.S. domestic production fell to a level unseen since September 2014, and the U.S. oil rig count is at its lowest level since November 2009. Speculation is beginning to surface whether U.S. production may soon decline more significantly, and what if anything this may mean for the global oil market’s current oversupply.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down $1.14 and settled at $40.36 per barrel. Oil prices have dropped even further today due to the news out of Doha, and this could provide some relief for gas prices.

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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