Gas Price Trends Showing No Relief

The national gas price average has increased for the sixth consecutive week, landing today’s national average at $2.61. That is 18 cents more expensive since prices started the upward trend in late-December and 3 cents more than last Monday.

“Every motorist in the country is paying more at the pump year-over-year. At 18 cents, Utah is seeing the smallest increase and California is feeling the biggest increase at 52 cents compared to the same time last year,” said Jeanette Casselano. “Strong demand coupled with steadily rising oil prices means filling up will continue to cost consumers more this month. In fact, the last time the national gas price average was this high, but under $3/gallon in February was in 2010.”

On the week, U.S. consumer gasoline demand hit 9 million b/d. In 2017, demand did not reach this mark until early March, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Quick Stats

  • The largest monthly changes in the nation’s top ten markets are: Iowa (+22 cents), California (+21 cents), Minnesota (+19 cents), Nebraska (+18 cents), Kansas (+17 cents), North Dakota (+17 cents), Oklahoma (+17 cents), Florida (+16 cents), Louisiana (+16 cents) and Missouri (+16 cents).
  • The nation’s top ten least expensive markets are: Texas ($2.36), Mississippi ($2.37), South Carolina ($2.37), Alabama ($2.37), Missouri ($2.38), Arizona ($2.38), Arkansas ($2.39), Tennessee ($2.41), Oklahoma ($2.42) and New Mexico ($2.43).

West Coast

Six of the most expensive gas prices in the country are in the West Coast region: Hawaii ($3.39), California ($3.34), Alaska ($3.05), Washington ($2.99), Oregon ($2.89) and Nevada ($2.75). On the week, California (+7 cents) saw the region’s largest increase, while Washington, Oregon and Nevada each saw a 4 cent increase, Alaska jumped 2 cents and Hawaii increased by a penny.

According to the EIA, gasoline stocks in the region dropped by the largest amount seen in the last 12 weeks – nearly 700,000 bbl. Inventories of gasoline sit at 33.9 million bbl, which is still 3.3 million bbl higher than last year’s level at the same time.

Great Lakes and Central

On the week, gas prices are less volatile than we have seen in the Great Lakes and Central region since the start of the year. While prices increased for most states, from 1 to 6 cents, a few states saw no change (Wisconsin) or a 1-cent decrease at the pump: Illinois and Missouri.

In the region, 10 of 13 states are selling gas for $2.50 or more: Michigan ($2.67), Iowa ($2.64), North Dakota ($2.63), Illinois ($2.62), Nebraska ($2.62), Indiana ($2.60), Minnesota ($2.58), South Dakota ($2.58), Wisconsin ($2.54) and Kentucky ($2.51). Missouri ($2.38) and Ohio ($2.45) have the lowest gas price average in the region.

Gasoline inventory bumped up 875,000 bbl to push levels to 56 million bbl. The last time inventory was this high was April 2017, according to the EIA. For the first time in three weeks, regional refinery utilization rates increased to 92 percent. The week prior’s rate was the lowest since mid-November.

South and Southeast

Florida (+6 cents) and New Mexico (+6 cents) land on this week’s top 10 states with the largest weekly increases. In fact, all states but Georgia (no change) saw price bumps at the pump. Still, prices in the South and Southeast remain among the cheapest in the country and under $2.43 for all states except: Florida ($2.61) and Georgia ($2.49).

With a 2.4 million bbl decline, gasoline inventories sit right at 81 million bbl. According to the EIA, January inventory levels have not been this low since 2015.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Four states in the region are 25-cents or less away from the $3/gal mark: Connecticut ($2.75), New York ($2.77), Washington, D.C. ($2.80) and Pennsylvania ($2.88). On the other side of the coin, Tennessee ($2.41) is selling the cheapest gas in the region. On the week, gas prices increased 1 to 4 cents in the region with motorists in New Jersey (+4 cents) and Vermont (+4 cents) seeing the largest increases.

For another week, gasoline inventory continue to register at 63 million bbl and only saw a slight build of 98,000 bbl. Overall, the EIA reports inventory levels for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region have held at or above 61 million bbl since the beginning of the year.

Rockies

Gas prices in Utah ($2.45) remain stable on the week while all other states are paying more: Wyoming (+3 cents), Colorado (+2 cents), Montana (+2 cent) and Idaho (+1 cent).

In the Rockies, four states land on the top 10 list of the smallest month-over-month changes in gas prices compared to the rest of the country: Wyoming (+4 cents), Utah (+4 cents), Idaho (+3 cents) and Montana (+3 cents).

Gasoline inventories built for the first time since the beginning of the year. With the addition of 171,000 bbl, inventory levels push up to 7.8 million bbl in the region.

 

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased 35 cents to settle at $65.45. Last week’s losses, which were buoyed by a stronger dollar, may extend into this week after EIA’s latest weekly report revealed that crude inventories grew by an astonishing 6.8 million b/d.

The crude oil growth may give the market some pause as it assesses the long-term impact of OPEC’s production reduction agreement, which remains in effect through the end of 2018. Countries outside of the agreement, such as the U.S., have seen production grow as global demand has grown, enabling these countries to export more oil while OPEC and its allies reduce production.

In the U.S., crude production continues to grow. The latest Baker Hughes, Inc. report found the active oil rig count in the U.S. grew by six and now totals 765. The current total is 182 more rigs than last year’s count in early February.

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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