Pump Prices Drop Nine Consecutive Days

Tamra JohnsonThe national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has dropped for nine consecutive days, reaching today’s price of $2.24 per gallon. Today’s average price represents a decrease of two cents per gallon compared to one week ago, but remains five cents more than last month. However, drivers across the country continue to see savings at the pump and are paying an average of three cents less per gallon year-over-year.

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Prices continue to wobble as areas of the country impacted by Hurricane Matthew work to replenish supply and several refineries across the country address planned and unplanned facility maintenance.

Quick Stats

  • Volatility in the Midwest has placed four states in the region at the top of the list for biggest weekly declines: Indiana (-14 cents), Ohio (-12 cents), Michigan (-10 cents) and Illinois (-8 cents).
  • The West Coast remains the most expensive market for gasoline, including the only six states where drivers are paying more than $2.50 on average: Hawaii ($2.87), California ($2.78), Washington ($2.71), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.52), and Nevada ($2.51).

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West Coast

Despite storms hitting the northwest this week, retail averages on the West Coast have remained relatively steady over the past week. Hawaii ($2.87) is the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline. Regional neighbors in California ($2.78), Washington ($2.71), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.52) and Nevada ($2.51) also ranked in the nation’s top six most expensive markets and the West Coast is the only region in the country with prices above $2.50. Supply issues in the Northwest resulting from the storm may have a slight impact on retail prices over the next week. Remnants of Typhoon Songda which caused significant damage in the Western Pacific days before hitting Oregon and Washington with strong winds and heavy rains Friday and Saturday. This has interfered with petroleum barge imports and has driven Northwest gasoline spot market prices to the highest in the nation.

Conditions at the PBF Torrance, CA refinery are reportedly improving after an unexpected power blip last Tuesday morning. PBF reported to OPIS on Friday morning that all process units taken offline were expected to be up by the end of the day.

Rockies

Prices for motorists in the Rocky Mountain region remain among the most stable although market averages are following the national trend downward. The drop in price is most likely due to seasonal drops in demand. Over the past month the region has experienced little change with prices generally moving only a few cents per gallon.

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Great Lakes and Central States

States in the Great Lakes region have seen the biggest decreases over the past week: Indiana (-14 cents), Ohio (-12 cents), Michigan (-10 cents), and Illinois (-8 cents). The Great Lakes is often the most volatile area in the country and it is not uncommon for prices to move significantly from week to week. At the moment, prices are heading downwards which can likely be attributed to BP’s Whiting, Indiana refinery completing unplanned maintenance on its largest crude distillation unit which has helped to ease supply constraints in the region. Planned work at the refinery has also wrapped up for the season. ExxonMobil is also completing scheduled maintenance at its Joliet refinery in Illinois. Refineries should finish all seasonal planned maintenance by the end of October.

Drivers in the Central region continue to enjoy some of the cheapest gas prices in the country with Oklahoma ($2.06) and Missouri ($2.06) both landing on the top 10 list of least expensive markets.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas prices across much of the region remain relatively steady with most states seeing slight weekly increases or decreases of two cents or less. This week New Jersey ($2.02) tops the list of least expensive markets in the country with Virginia also landing in the top 15. Washington, D.C. ($2.45), Pennsylvania ($2.40) and New York ($2.36) are posting some of the most expensive averages in the region this week.

South and Southeast

Many parts in the Southeast are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew. As massive power outages and flooding continue to be resolved, they seem to be having minimal impact on pump prices. Drivers in the South are also enjoying relatively low pump prices with many states in the region making the list of cheapest markets in the country: Texas ($2.03), Arkansas ($2.05), Oklahoma ($2.06), Mississippi ($2.07), Louisiana ($2.09), South Carolina ($2.09) and Alabama ($2.11).

Prices in the Gulf Coast are still recovering from a week long shutdown at Pasadena Refining System’s 115,700-b/d Pasadena, Texas refinery. The fluid catalytic cracking unit was restarted at the refinery last Monday after it was taken out of service for unplanned repair on a leaking valve. The Gulf Coast is home to the bulk of U.S. refining capacity, which should keep prices relatively low for drivers, barring a hurricane or another unexpected event.

Oil Market Dynamics

Crude oil contracts continued to react to last month’s announcement that OPEC was working on a plan to cut production. While the market increased briefly by the end of last week, crude oil prices had dipped back to less than $51 per barrel as a result of continued skepticism about both the plausibility of a plan being agreed to and the implementation of a production freeze. Traders will continue to watch discussions surrounding the upcoming November meeting. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 9 cents to settle at $50.35 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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