National Average Shows Steady Decline on the Week
The average price at the pump has fallen for 15 of the last 16 days, for a total savings of 4 cents per gallon. The national average currently sits at $2.22 per gallon, which is two cents less than one week ago, one cent more than one month ago and 1 cent more year-over-year. The National average is down 17 cents per gallon versus the 2016 peak price reached in June ($2.39).
This year’s seasonal refinery maintenance continues across the United States and select regional markets are still under pressure as a result of planned and unplanned maintenance. The West Coast is enduring the fall turnaround season but is still feeling the impacts of shutdowns at the PBF’s Torrance, California refinery. Similar pressure is still being felt on the East Coast with rumors of refinery outages in the Philadelphia area. Although gasoline demand typically retreats during the fall due to lower driving demand and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline, continued unplanned outages could create volatility and put pressure on the national average in the near term.
- The biggest weekly price decreases are reflected in Ohio (-12 cents), Michigan (-12 cents), Illinois (-6 cents), Wisconsin (-5 cents), Kentucky (-5 cents), Georgia (-4 cents), South Carolina (-4 cents), Tennessee (-4 cents), Oklahoma (-3 cents) and Kansas (-3 cents).
- The nation’s top ten most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($2.89), California ($2.78), Washington ($2.73), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.55), Nevada ($2.51), Idaho ($2.46), District of Columbia ($2.45), Pennsylvania ($2.40) and Montana ($2.37).
Gas prices on the West Coast remain the highest in the country with states in the region topping the list of most expensive U.S. markets: Hawaii ($2.89), California ($2.78), Washington ($2.73), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.55), Nevada ($2.51). Prices in the region have crept higher due to seasonal maintenance this month as refiners switch to winter-blend gasoline. Ongoing planned maintenance is taking place at Phillips 66’s 147,000-b/d Los Angeles refinery, Tesoro’s 107,000- b/d Wilmington refinery and Chevron’s 275,200-b/d Richmond refinery. The region is also still recovering from a power outage at PBF’s 157,800-b/d Torrance refinery that stopped operations for several days. The switch to winter-blend gasoline should have some price benefits for drivers after seasonal maintenance wraps up next month.
Gas prices in the Rockies region have remained relatively stable over the past week with averages moving up by only two cents per gallon or less. Fall maintenance at Western Refining’s St. Paul Park refinery in Minnesota is expected to wrap up this week which should provide additional relief to drivers at the pump.
Great Lakes and Central States
Drivers in the Great Lakes region are enjoying significant discounts at the pump as prices are dropping on abundant supplies and limited disruptions to refinery production. The region includes the four states registering the largest declines in the nation over the past week: Ohio (-12 cents), Michigan (-12 cents), Illinois (-6 cents), and Wisconsin (-5 cents). Ohio ($2.04) is also on the list of cheapest markets in the country. The significant price declines can be attributed to elevated inventories and a lack of major refinery outages in the region.
Drivers in the Central region continue to pay among the cheapest pump prices in the country, including three states where prices are moving closer to the $2.00 per gallon mark: Oklahoma ($2.01), Missouri ($2.03), Tennessee ($2.07).
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Pump prices in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have seen slight increases over the past week. There has been a lot of refinery maintenance in the region. OPIS reports that there is ongoing maintenance in Newfoundland and New Brunswick, as well as at Delta’s Trainer, Pa. refinery. The refinery plans to keep its fluid catalytic cracking unit down at least another month for maintenance. Another factor impacting supply in the region is two critical Canadian refineries that send gasoline to the Eastern Seaboard have not been contributing much gasoline to the area due to maintenance. Pennsylvania ($2.40) and Washington D.C. ($2.45) are both on the top-10 list of the country’s most expensive markets.
South and Southeast
Drivers across much of the South and Southeast continue to enjoy relatively cheap pump prices, and a reported five percent increase in regional gasoline stocks has caused wholesale prices to drop in some areas. Gulf Coast refiners are slowly recovering from planned and unplanned maintenance, but the region is also tasked with sending large supplies of gasoline to Mexico, where refiners are running at half capacity. Reports from OPIS show that Gulf Coast refiners historically overproduce in November and December which could result in cheaper prices for drivers, but for now, the market is balanced. Drivers in Arkansas ($2.03), Texas ($2.05), South Carolina ($2.05) and Mississippi ($2.06) are enjoying pump prices among the top ten lowest in the nation.
Parts of the Southeast are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew which significantly dropped demand in the region. The Hurricane, mixed with exports and refinery issues in the Gulf Coast have moved prices significantly over the past month in some southern states with three making the list of top-five largest monthly increases: Texas (+10 cents), Florida (+10 cents) and Louisiana (+9 cents).
Oil Market Dynamics
The market reacted early Monday morning to claims from Iraq that they would not participate in a potential OPEC production cut agreement. The Iraqi State Oil Monitor suggested that Iraq could not afford to lose any further market share than it already has and would not benefit from taking part in a production freeze. This development follows last week’s news that Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak is planning several meetings with OPEC countries to discuss proposals to freeze oil output amid weak prices in the market. OPEC countries are scheduled to formally meet again on November 30. Traders will continue to monitor the announcement of manufacturing agreement details, but there remains continued uncertainty as to whether OPEC can meet the production targets and rebalance the market. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 22 cents to settle at $50.58 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.