Prices at Pump 12 Cents Cheaper on the Month, but nearly 20 Cents More Expensive on the Year

On the week, the national average dropped three cents to $2.43. Motorists in the Midwest are seeing the largest drops at the pump, by as much as 10 cents. However, two states are paying more on the week: Indiana (+3 cents) and Hawaii (+1 cent). The national gas price average is 12 cents cheaper than one month ago, but that’s not the case compared to this time last year.

“More than 97 million Americans will begin to hit the road this week for the holidays – the most ever on record,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “At 20 cents more per gallon than the same time last year, pump prices don’t seem to be a deterrent for today’s travelers. The good news is that in most states, gas prices are 12 cents less than they were a month ago. So today, motorists can find gas for $2.50 or less at 71 percent of gas stations in the country.”

Weekly gasoline inventories increased by an astonishing 5.7 million bbl, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Demand teeters above the 9 million mark, which is in line with this time last year.

“The increase in supply combined with weaker winter demand will pave the way for even cheaper winter gas prices,” added Casselano.

Quick Stats

  • The top 10 states with largest yearly changes are: Alaska (+54 cents), California (+43 cents), Montana (+42 cents), Oregon (+38 cents), North Dakota (+36 cents), Colorado (+35 cents), Hawaii (+34 cents), Wyoming (+34 cents), Washington (+34 cents) and Idaho (+33 cents).
  • The top 10 states with the least expensive gasoline are: Missouri ($2.16), South Carolina ($2.18), Alabama ($2.18), Oklahoma ($2.18), Mississippi ($2.18), Texas ($2.18), Arkansas ($2.19), Tennessee ($2.22), Louisiana ($2.23) and Virginia ($2.24).

West Coast

Gas prices in the West Coast region remain among the most expensive in the country, even with California (-4 cents) and Alaska (-3 cents) leading the pack with the largest price drops on the week. In contrast, Hawaii is the only state in the region to see prices rise on the week, increasing by a penny. Current prices in six states are the most expensive in the country, including: Hawaii ($3.30), Alaska ($3.18), California ($3.09), Washington ($2.94), Oregon ($2.79) and Nevada ($2.66).

According to EIA’s latest report for the region, gasoline inventories hit a new seven-month high at 30 million bbl. Refinery crude input rates climbed to 94 percent as the state increased gasoline production levels, helping to send regional gasoline inventories to their highest point this year.

Great Lakes and Central

Six Great Lakes and Central states land on this week’s list of the largest drops in gas prices: Ohio (-10 cents), Michigan (-7 cents), Missouri (-6 cents), Kentucky (-5 cents), South Dakota (-5 cents) and Iowa (-4 cents). All states in the region are paying less at the pump on the week except for Indiana (+5 cents). Of note, at $2.16, Missouri has the cheapest gas prices in the region and the country.

As many as 12 states in the region are paying 10-30 cents less compared to one month ago. Ohio (-32 cents), Illinois (-22 cents), Michigan (-21 cents), Wisconsin (-20 cents), Indiana (-19 cents), Missouri (-19 cents), Kentucky (-16 cents), Kansas (-16 cents) and Nebraska (-16 cents) motorists are enjoying the largest decrease in gas prices.

With a small 624,000 bbl build, inventories bumped up to 47.9 million bbl – which is the highest levels for the region since late October.

South and Southeast

Motorists in the South and Southeast are paying less at the pump on the week, on average up to four cents less, and paying among the cheapest gas prices in the country. However, gas prices are more expensive than this time last year. Here is a look at the five cheapest gas prices in the region compared to prices last year at this time.

State Today’s Gas Price Last Year’s Gas Price Difference
South Carolina $2.18 $2.03 $0.15
Alabama $2.18 $2.05 $0.13
Oklahoma $2.18 $2.03 $0.15
Mississippi $2.18 $2.04 $0.14
Texas $2.18 $2.05 $0.13

The region saw the largest build in gasoline inventories (3.2 million bbl). According to the EIA, the 81.6 million bbl total yields a 1.6 million bbl surplus compared to this time last year.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Two Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states carry some of the cheapest gas in the country while four states tout some of the most expensive. Motorists in Virginia ($2.24) and Tennessee ($2.22) are paying nearly 50 cents less than those in Pennsylvania ($2.71), Washington, D.C. ($2.68), Connecticut ($2.65) and New York ($2.63).

Gas prices decreased on the week across the region. With a four cent drop, Delaware motorists had the largest decrease of any state in the region.

Building by 750,000 bbl, gasoline inventories increased for a fifth consecutive week and register at 59 million bbl. While inventories measure at the highest levels in four months, totals sit at a nearly 4 million bbl deficit compared to this time last year.

Rockies

Gas prices continue to trend cheaper in the Rockies with Utah (-4 cents) landing on this week’s top 10 states with the biggest changes. Utah ($2.43) also carries the cheapest gas in the region, followed by Wyoming ($2.46), Colorado ($2.46), Idaho ($2.57) and Montana ($2.60).

At 7.2 million bbl, regional gasoline inventories hit the highest mark since the end of June. On the week, inventories had a small 132,000 bbl build and sit just about 700,000 bbl below regional levels this time last year.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 26 cents to settle at $57.30. Oil prices made slight gains throughout last week, and this trend may continue this week. However, if concerns about overproduction as the market attempts to rebalance continue, market observers may curtail further gains.

EIA’s latest report showed that domestic crude oil production hit a new record high at 9.8 million b/d, which has not been that high since December 1970. Increased oil production has given the market some pause, considering that all eyes were previously on rebalancing efforts led by OPEC and non-OPEC producers. After the cartel agreed to extend crude oil cuts through the end of 2018, efforts by the U.S. and other producers outside of the OPEC agreement came into sharper focus because they have gained market share due to reduced output levels from other global suppliers.

In spite of record production, U.S. crude oil inventories continue to decline, falling 5.1 million bbl last week, according to EIA. Inventories have fallen roughly 16 million bbl over the past four weeks. Moreover, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that active oil rigs in the U.S. decreased by four last week and now stand at 747 in total.

Looking ahead to 2018, oil production from countries outside of OPEC’s agreement are likely to increase, based on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) oil supply and demand forecast for 2018. According to IEA, the global oil surplus could be around 200,000 b/d in the first half of the year. On the other hand, growth in global oil demand is expected to hit 99.1 million b/d, but overall demand in 2018 is expected to be less than 2017 demand numbers. Reduced demand, while supplies continue to grow, will likely lead to another year of global inventory surplus.

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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