Posts Tagged ‘AAA Three Diamond’

Gas Prices Drop to Lowest Mark Since 2009

December 14th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, December 14, 2015) U.S. drivers are paying the lowest average price for regular unleaded gasoline since 2009, and the national average is one cent away from dropping below $2 per gallon. These lower gas prices have been largely driven by the falling price of crude oil, which begins this week at its lowest mark in more than five years. U.S. average gas prices are 79 per gallon less than the 2015 peak, and the national average has moved lower for 33 of the past 38 days for a total savings of 21 cents per gallon. The average price at the pump is down two cents on the week, 16 cents on the month and 54 cents on the year.

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The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the traditional U.S. benchmark, closed out last week with a Friday settlement of $35.62 per barrel, a price not seen since the 2008-2009 Great Recession. Crude oil has tumbled approximately 60 percent compared to June 2014 as global supply continues to outpace demand. This imbalance is likely to continue into 2016, which should keep a ceiling on oil prices. Barring any disruptions in supply, consumers are expected to continue to benefit from noticeable fuel savings.

Retail averages are below $2 per gallon in 26 states. South Carolina ($1.79), Missouri ($1.79) and Kansas ($1.79) are the nation’s least expensive markets, and drivers in these states are saving nearly $1 per gallon compared to the state with the highest average, which is Hawaii ($2.75). California ($2.65), Nevada ($2.49), Washington ($2.42) and Alaska ($2.39) round out the top five most expensive markets for gasoline.

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Gas prices are holding relatively steady and have moved by +/- 3 cents or less in 29 states and Washington, D.C. week-over-week. Consumers in 43 states and Washington, D.C. have seen prices fall over this same period, and averages are down a nickel or more per gallon in six states, led by: Delaware (-8 cents), Minnesota (-6 cents) and North Dakota (-6 cents). Averages in seven states have moved higher on the week, led by Michigan (+8 cents).

Averages have fallen nationwide month-over-month, and with the exception of Alaska (-1 cent), consumers are benefitting from monthly savings of more than a nickel per gallon in the price of retail gasoline. Pump prices are down double-digits in 41 states and Washington, D.C. versus one month ago, and drivers in eight states are saving a quarter or more per gallon. The largest monthly discounts are in the Midwestern states of Wisconsin (-36 cents), Minnesota (-30 cents) and Michigan (-30 cents).

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Pump prices typically fall during the winter months due to reduced demand for gasoline. Motorists nationwide continue to experience year-over-year savings, though today’s average is the smallest year-over-year savings of 2015. Alaska (-99 cents) and Hawaii (-96 cents) are the only two states where averages are down by more than 75 cents per gallon year-over-year. Consumers in 42 states and Washington, D.C. are saving 50 cents or more per gallon versus this same date last year, and  California (-23 cents) is the only state posting a yearly savings of less than a quarter per gallon.

With both Brent and WTI reaching their cheapest levels since the global economic crisis, attention is now focused on the Federal Reserve’s potential action to raise interest rates. A strong U.S. jobs report has contributed to rumors that the Fed may increase its rate for the first time since 2008, which could further impact the global oil market. An increase in interest rates would be expected to result in a stronger U.S. dollar, which in turn makes oil (priced in U.S. dollars) a relatively more expensive investment for those holding other currencies, making it a less attractive investment. This could further exacerbate the market’s current oversupply and keep downward pressure on the global price of crude oil.

The U.S. oil rig count fell by its largest weekly increment in nearly three months (28 rigs), though strong production continues to oversupply the market. Members of Congress are also working on a budget deal that could include an end to the decades-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports. An end to the ban would allow unprocessed crude oil produced in the U.S. to enter the global oil market, which could impact both domestic production and global supply.

WTI opened the trading session below $35 per barrel. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down $1.14 and settled at $35.62 per barrel. This closing price represented a loss of nearly ten percent on the week.

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.

National Average Nears Lowest Price Since 2009

December 7th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON – December 7, 2015) The national average is less than a penny higher than the 2015 low (January 26), and should soon fall below the $2 per gallon mark for the first time since 2009. Pump prices have fallen for 29 of the past 31 days, and today’s average price of $2.03 represents a savings of one cent per gallon on the week and 19 cents on the month. Significant yearly savings persist, and gas prices are discounted by 65 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year.

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During the winter months demand for gasoline typically declines, and pump prices tend to move lower as a result. Following a busier than usual fall maintenance season at refineries, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is reporting that refinery production is outpacing both 2014 and current demand. U.S. crude oil stocks are also within striking distance of an all-time high, and as a result, questions about continued production and storage capacity are beginning to arise. This combination of ample production and increasing gasoline inventories are likely to keep gas prices relatively low, and barring any unforeseen shifts in market fundamentals, averages are likely to continue to decline leading into 2016.

Hawaii ($2.79) leads the nation and is the only state where drivers are paying an average price above $2.75 per gallon. Regional neighbors California ($2.69), Nevada ($2.51), Washington ($2.44) and Alaska ($2.40) join Hawaii in the rankings as the nation’s top five most expensive markets for retail gasoline. South Carolina ($1.81), Missouri ($1.81) and Oklahoma ($1.83) are the nation’s least expensive markets for gasoline, and consumers in a total of 23 states are paying an average below $2 per gallon.

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Pump prices have been relatively steady over the past week, moving by +/-3 cents in the vast majority of states (45) during this span. Averages are down in 41 states and Washington, D.C. versus one week ago; however, prices declined at smaller increments than in recent weeks. Montana (-6 cents) and Wyoming (-6 cents) are posting the largest savings on the week and are the only two states where drivers are experiencing weekly savings of more than a nickel per gallon. On the other end of the spectrum, motorists in nine states are paying more to refuel their vehicles compared to one week ago, led by Ohio (+6 cents).

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Drivers nationwide are benefiting from monthly savings at the pump, largely due to gasoline production returning to levels not seen since the beginning of the seasonal turnaround. Gas prices have fallen by double-digit increments in 35 states and Washington, D.C. since one month ago, and motorists in 14 states are saving more than a quarter per gallon in the price at the pump over this same period. The largest month-over-month drops in the price of retail gasoline have been in the Midwestern states of Michigan (-53 cents), Wisconsin (-44 cents), Indiana (-37 cents) and Illinois (-36 cents).

The relatively low price of crude oil is helping to sustain year-over-year discounts in the price of gasoline nationwide. Retail averages are down more than 50 cents per gallon in 48 states and Washington, D.C., and motorists in a dozen states are saving at least 75 cents per gallon versus this same date last year. Alaska (-$1.05) and Hawaii (-$1.00), two of the nation’s most expensive markets, are also the only two states where drivers are saving $1 or more per gallon compared to one year ago.

OPEC’s decision at its meeting last week to sustain its current production levels sent ripples through the global oil market and has contributed to lower oil prices. The cartel is not scheduled to reconvene until June 2016, and in the interim the imbalance between supply and demand will likely persist. Market watchers will remain focused on the Federal Reserve, which is expected to raise interest rates on the heels of a strong U.S. jobs report. A higher interest rate typically leads to a stronger U.S. dollar, which makes oil relatively more expensive for those holding foreign currencies. The combination of these factors has the ability to further exacerbate the global oil market’s state of oversupply and keep downward pressure on prices.

The domestic oil market is also reflecting signs of oversupply. Both crude oil and gasoline inventories are approaching record levels even as lower prices impact exploration and production. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the domestic oil and gas extraction sector lost upwards of 2,400 jobs during the month of November. This follows the October report which showed the sector shedding approximately 2,700 jobs.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was down $1.11 and settled at $39.97 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.

Michael Green Contact Tile(Washington – November 30, 2015) Drivers this year paid the lowest gas prices for Thanksgiving since 2008, and the national average has now fallen for 24 straight days. Today’s average price of $2.04 per gallon is within fractions of a penny of the multi-year low reached this January, and the national average remains poised to fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark by Christmas. Gas prices are down three cents per gallon for the week, 14 cents over the last month and 74 cents compared to a year ago.

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The national average has dropped for 24 of the past 30 days, largely due to the resolution of unplanned and planned refinery maintenance. The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration points to rising refinery runs and output reaching its highest rates since September. Demand for gasoline typically declines during the winter months and the gasoline market may become even more oversupplied in the near term, which should keep gas prices relatively low. Barring any unanticipated disruptions in supply, or swings in the price of crude oil, retail averages are expected to continue to fall leading into 2016.

Pump prices in nearly half (22) of the states are now below $2 per gallon, and drivers in the Midwestern states of Michigan ($1.81), Missouri ($1.81) and Ohio ($1.82) are paying the nation’s lowest averages at the pump. Hawaii ($2.81) leads the market and is joined by regional neighbors California ($2.70), Nevada ($2.53), Washington ($2.46) and Alaska ($2.38) as the top five most expensive markets for retail gasoline.

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Retail averages are down in the vast majority of states (46) week-over-week; however, prices have fallen more slowly than in recent weeks. Drivers in a dozen states are saving a nickel or more per gallon on the week, led by Michigan (-12 cents), Illinois (-7 cents), North Dakota (-7 cents) and Wisconsin (-7 cents). Michigan is the only state where prices have moved lower by double-digit increments over this same period. On the other end of the spectrum, pump prices have moved higher in four states, with Indiana (+6 cents) the only state posting an increase of more than fractions of a penny.

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Motorists continue to experience significant monthly savings in the price at the pump, largely due to the completion of seasonal refinery maintenance. Averages are down in 45 states and Washington, D.C. month-over-month, and consumers in the majority of these states (34) are saving a nickel or more per gallon. Drivers in a total of 15 states are enjoying savings of a quarter or more per gallon with the largest monthly discounts in the Midwestern states of  Michigan (-47 cents), Wisconsin (-38 cents), Ohio (-36 cents) and Illinois (-35 cents). Pump prices moved higher in five states over this same period, all by less than a nickel per gallon, led by Oregon (+4 cents), New Jersey (+3 cents) and Washington (+3 cents).

Consumers nationwide continue to experience significant yearly savings in the price of retail gasoline, thanks to the relatively low price of crude oil. Averages in 22 states have dropped 75 cents per gallon or more year-over-year, and motorists in Alaska (-$1.13), Michigan (-$1.06) and Hawaii (-$1.05) are saving more than $1 per gallon over this same period. California (-36 cents) and Nevada (-45 cents) remain the only two states where drivers are not saving at least 50 cents per gallon versus one year ago.

Oversupply and a strengthening U.S. dollar continue to impact global oil markets, keeping downward pressure on the price of crude oil. Geopolitical tensions between Russia and Turkey have yet to lead to any sustained increases in prices, and early reports indicate that tensions between the two countries will have little impact on production in the Middle East. OPEC is scheduled to meet this Friday, and analysts expect that the cartel is unlikely to reduce production despite the relatively low price of crude oil.

Domestic crude oil inventories remain elevated compared to previous years, and talks are now shifting toward the potential impacts of a surplus in gasoline inventories. WTI opened this week’s formal trading posting gains after closing out Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX down $1.33, settling at $41.71 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.

Drivers to Pay Lowest Thanksgiving Gas Prices Since 2008

November 23rd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, November 23, 2015) Approximately 42 million Americans are expected to take a road trip this Thanksgiving, and drivers should pay the lowest pump prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2008. Retail averages have fallen for 17 consecutive days for a total savings of 15 cents per gallon, and the national average remains poised to fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark by the Christmas holiday. Already, more than half of U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon. Today’s national average price of $2.07 per gallon represents a savings of nine cents per gallon versus one week ago, and 14 cents per gallon on the month. Significant yearly savings persist and pump prices are down 75 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year.

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Midwestern refineries continue to come back online following both planned and unplanned maintenance work. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, production in the region reached its highest rates in nearly two months, which has also helped gas prices recover in the region following recent spikes due to unexpected outages. As a result of more supply entering the regional market, the largest weekly and monthly declines in the price at the pump are localized to this region and drivers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana are benefitting from noticeable savings in the price of retail gasoline.

Demand for gasoline typically declines during the month of November, and barring any unexpected disruptions in supply, the national average is expected to move lower leading into 2016.

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The list of states with retail averages below $2 per gallon has added seven new members since one week ago, for a total of 18 states. Pump prices have moved markedly lower in the Midwest week-over-week, and Indiana ($1.82), Ohio ($1.83) and Oklahoma ($1.85) edged out Alabama ($1.85) and South Carolina ($1.85) as the nation’s least expensive markets for gasoline. Hawaii ($2.83) is the market leader, where drivers are paying more than $1 per gallon more than the nation’s least expensive market Indiana. Regional neighbors California ($2.73), Nevada ($2.59), Washington ($2.48) and Alaska ($2.40) join Hawaii in the rankings as the top five most expensive markets.

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With the exception of Alaska (+2 cents), drivers nationwide are enjoying weekly discounts in the price to refuel their vehicles. Averages in the majority (36) of states are down a nickel or more per gallon, and consumers in a dozen states have seen prices fall double-digits from one week ago. The largest savings over this same period are in the Midwestern states of Wisconsin (-24 cents), Michigan (-23 cents), Indiana (-20 cents) and Ohio (-18 cents).

Pump prices are down in the vast majority of states (47) month-over-month and motorists in 36 states and Washington, D.C., are enjoying savings of a nickel or more per gallon over this same period. Averages have fallen by at least ten cents in more than half of the states (26), with the largest monthly savings experienced by drivers in Michigan (-43 cents), Illinois (-35 cents), Wisconsin (-35 cents) and Indiana (-34 cents). Consumers in a total of 14 states are saving a quarter or more at the pump over this same period. On the other end of the spectrum, drivers in Oregon (+2 cents), Washington (+2 cents) and New Jersey (+1 cents) are paying monthly premiums in the price of gas.

The relatively low price of crude oil continues to provide consumers with noticeable yearly savings in the price of retail gasoline. Pump prices are discounted by 75 cents per gallon or more in 26 states, and drivers in Alaska (-$1.15) and Hawaii (-$1.08) are saving more than $1 per gallon year-over-year. California (-36 cents) and Nevada (-42 cents) are the only two states where drivers are not saving at least 50 cents per gallon at the pump compared to one year ago.

Crude oil supply from a number of production countries including Russia and Saudi Arabia is expected to sustain the global oil market’s current oversupply and keep market fundamentals bearish in the near term. Projections of slower than expected economic growth from China, combined with the impact of a strengthening U.S. dollar, are also likely to keep the market out of balance and put a ceiling on global oil prices. When the value of the U.S. dollar increases, West Texas Intermediate crude oil, priced in U.S. dollars, becomes a relatively less attractive investment for those holding currencies overseas.

The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration points to crude oil inventories being up more than 100 million barrels from this time last year. Domestic inventories are nearing all-time record levels, which contributed to WTI falling temporarily below $40 per barrel last week. WTI closed out Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX down 15 cents settling at $40.39 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.

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (November 17, 2015) – AAA Travel forecasts 46.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, a 0.6 percent increase over the 46.6 million people who traveled last year and the most since 2007. With 300,000 additional holiday travelers, this marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving travel. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 25 to Sunday, November 29.

“This Thanksgiving, more Americans will carve out time to visit friends and family since 2007,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. “While many people remain cautious about the economy and their finances, many thankful Americans continue to put a premium on traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones.”

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Despite improvements in the economy, including steady wage growth, rising disposable income and a falling unemployment rate, consumers remain cautious about their finances. However, gas prices remain well below 2014 levels, providing an early holiday bonus to the more than 89 percent of holiday travelers who will drive to their destinations.

“One holiday gift has come early this year. Americans will likely pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway,” continued Doney.

Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving

Nearly 42 million Americans will take a holiday road trip this Thanksgiving, an increase of 0.7 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 0.1 percent, with 3.6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease 1.4 percent this Thanksgiving, to 1.4 million travelers.

Lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in seven years expected

Drivers nationwide continue to experience significant yearly savings in the price of gas and AAA estimates that consumers are saving nearly $265 million on gasoline every day compared to a year ago. This has helped boost disposable income, enabling many Americans to travel this Thanksgiving. Most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.15, 65 cents less than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.80).

Airfares fall, hotel and car rental rates rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are projected to decrease 10 percent this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $169 roundtrip across the top 40 domestic flight routes. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain relatively flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen four percent with an average nightly cost of $118. Daily car rental rates will average $60, eight percent higher than last Thanksgiving.

#AAAToTheRescue for thousands of motorists this Thanksgiving

AAA expects to rescue more than 360,000 motorists this Thanksgiving, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway

Before setting out on a Thanksgiving trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2015 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

National Average Drops Further

April 6th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, April 6, 2015) The price at the pump continues to reflect seasonality as refineries complete scheduled maintenance and prepare for the summer driving season. The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has fallen for 24 of the past 30 days, after reaching a peak-to-date price for 2015 of $2.46 per gallon on March 7. While prices could still rise again this spring if global crude prices rise or domestic refineries experience production issues, the timing of this seasonal peak would be within the range of recent years but the “high” would be significantly lower. Peak dates and prices in recent years were April 28, 2014 ($3.70); February 27, 2013 ($3.79); April 5 and 6, 2012 ($3.94); and May 5, 2011 ($3.98).

Today’s national average price at the pump is $2.39 per gallon, which represents a savings of three cents versus one week ago and seven cents versus one month ago. Consumers continue to experience significant year-over-year savings in the price of retail gasoline and are saving $1.19 per gallon compared to this same date last year.

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Production issues have largely been resolved in the Midwest and on the West Coast, following a number of unexpected issues at refineries, which caused regional price spikes over the past few weeks. Despite these localized swings, the low price of crude oil has kept the national average relatively stable over the past month. Unless there are new regional refinery issues or global crude prices turn markedly higher, drivers can expect to see pump prices continue to slide leading up to the start of the summer driving season.

California drivers continue to pay the most in the nation for retail gasoline ($3.15). However, with local refineries returning to normal production levels, prices in the state have posted the largest declines in the nation over the past several weeks and have narrowed the price spread between the Golden State and Hawaii ($3.12), which usually holds the title for the most expensive state average in the country. Alaska ($2.91), Nevada ($2.79) and Washington ($2.74) round out the top five most expensive markets. Motorists in South Carolina ($2.09), Tennessee ($2.13) and Mississippi ($2.15) are paying the nation’s lowest prices to refuel their vehicles.

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Most drivers across the country are experiencing week-over-week savings at the pump. The average price is down in 40 states and Washington D.C., with the largest drops seen in Indiana (-14 cents), Ohio (-13 cents) and Kentucky (-10 cents). Retail prices have ticked higher versus one week ago in 10 states, all by less than a nickel per gallon, led by: Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota (all +3 cents).

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Forty-one states are now posting month-over-month discounts in the average price per gallon, led by California (-29 cents), Minnesota (-22 cents) and Oregon (-18 cents). Twelve additional states are registering monthly savings of a dime or more per gallon, and drivers in 36 states are saving at least a nickel per gallon over this same period. On the other end of the spectrum, prices moved higher versus one month ago in 9 states and Washington, D.C, with Utah (+25 cents), Idaho (+24 cents), Illinois (+14 cents) and Wyoming (+11 cents) are all posting premiums of a dime or more per gallon.

The average price at the pump nationwide remains substantially less expensive than one year ago, due to the relatively low price of crude. Every state and Washington, D.C., continues to post year-over-year savings, and the average price for retail gasoline is down by more than a dollar in 42 states and Washington, D.C. The price at the pump is discounted by $1.25 or more in 12 states.

The global oil market remains in flux due to news of declining revenues for producers as well as the potential for additional supply to enter the market. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member nations posted their lowest net export revenues since 2010, due to reductions in oil exports from the countries and the sharply lower price of crude. Market watchers remain focused on the oil cartel for any signs of a move to cut production to stabilize prices, and with news of a framework for a nuclear agreement having been reached between Western powers and Iran, speculations of oversupply are expected to keep downward pressure on the market. Iran holds the world’s fourth largest proven reserves of crude oil but since 2012 sanctions have limited the OPEC member country’s ability to participate fully in the global oil market.

At the close of Thursday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed down 95 cents at $49.14 per barrel. The NYMEX was closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.

Gas Prices May Drop in Time for Summer

April 1st, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile

 

(WASHINGTON, April 1, 2015)

Gas Prices Remain Relatively Stable and Cheap for Most Drivers

  • Gas prices remained relatively stable in March with the national average up only about two cents per gallon during the month. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.41 per gallon, which is about $1.15 per gallon less than a year ago.
  • “This spring has been relatively pain free at the pumps for most drivers with a few exceptions,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesman. “Gas prices in most places are still relatively cheap and we have not seen the national average jump at the same dramatic rates that have been so common during the spring in recent years.”
  • Average U.S. gas prices are up 37 cents per gallon since falling to near a six-year low of $2.03 per gallon on Jan. 26, 2015. It is common for gas prices to rise 50 cents per gallon or more in late winter and early spring as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline production.
  • The average price of gas in March was $2.43 per gallon, which was the cheapest average for the month since 2009.
  • The cost of crude oil has remained volatile despite relative stability in gas prices. West Texas Intermediate oil prices closed as high as $51.53 per barrel in early March, but also closed at a six-year low of $43.46 per barrel on March 17 before rising again later in the month. Crude oil prices make up more than half of the cost of a gallon of gasoline.
  • A refinery explosion and other production problems led to a significant spike in gas prices in states west of the Rockies in late February and early March, as California’s average reached a high of $3.44 per gallon on March 6. It can be difficult for local production to meet demand when California’s refineries experience problems because there are no pipelines that connect the state to the major refining regions east of the Rockies. Average prices in California have since dropped about 26 cents per gallon.
  • Drivers in the Midwest also faced a brief spike in gas prices in March as several large refineries in the region experienced temporary problems. For example, gas prices in Illinois jumped more than 33 cents per gallon, but have since begun to decline as refineries return to normal operations.

AAA Sees Possibility of Lower Gas Prices by the Summer

  • Lower gas prices may be on the way for U.S. consumers by this summer if refinery maintenance ends smoothly and if crude oil remains relatively cheap. It is even possible that gas prices will return to near $2 per gallon in some areas, as long as there are no unexpected problems in the meantime. AAA does not expect the national average to rise above $3 per gallon this year.
  • “There is a real hope that gas prices could drop significantly in time for the busy summer driving season,” continued Ash. “The overall outlook looks good for drivers, and with any luck we will avoid the types of problems that often lead to higher gas prices at this time of year.”
  • Many refineries have completed seasonal maintenance, though unexpected problems could still occur. Many refineries and wholesalers will switch to more expensive summer-blend gasoline by May 1 to meet EPA clean air regulations.
  • The cost of crude oil is likely to be the most important factor influencing gas prices over the next few months. Many experts believe that crude oil prices may drop further due to abundant supplies, but international conflict, declining production or other issues could result in higher prices.
  • There is a glut of petroleum around the world that has helped to keep prices at the lowest levels since 2009. Domestic oil production remains about 14 percent higher than a year ago. U.S. commercial crude oil supplies are about 24 percent higher than a year ago, while gasoline supplies are about six percent higher than a year ago. In addition, a nuclear deal with Iran may allow that country to export more crude oil, which would further increase global oil supplies.
  • There remains a possibility that oil prices could rise despite abundant supplies. Most recently, the market has been concerned that the conflict in Yemen could lead to violence in major oil-producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Households Saving more than $100 a Month on Gasoline

  • Many drivers are saving $15-$30 on every trip to the gas station due to lower prices. AAA estimates that households are saving more than $425 million per day on gasoline compared to a year ago, which works out to average savings of more than $100 per household a month.
  • About 93 percent of U.S. gas stations are selling gas that is priced between $2 and $3 per gallon. About 1 in 3 stations are still selling gas for less than $2.25 per gallon. A year ago, nearly every station in the country was selling gas for more than $3 per gallon.
  • The most common price in the country today is $2.299 per gallon, which compares to $3.599 per gallon a year ago.
  • The five states with the highest average prices today include: California ($3.19), Hawaii ($3.15), Alaska ($2.91), Nevada ($2.80), and Washington ($2.75). The five states with the lowest average prices today include: South Carolina ($2.10), Tennessee ($2.14), New Jersey ($2.16), Mississippi ($2.16) and Alabama ($2.17).

AAA updates fuel price averages daily at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com. Every day up to 120,000 stations are surveyed based on credit card swipes and direct feeds in cooperation with the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and Wright Express for unmatched statistical reliability. All average retail prices in this report are for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline. For more information, contact Michael Green at 202-942-2082, mgreen@national.aaa.com.

Retail Gas Price Rally Fades

March 30th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 30, 2015)  Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.42 per gallon. Consumers are paying two cents more than one month ago but fractions of a penny less than one week ago and $1.13 less than the same date last year. The national average has now fallen for 17 of the past 23 days.

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The status of regional refineries continues to be a driving factor for gas prices in many parts of the country. However, while several weeks ago it was refineries going offline and driving prices higher in the midwest and west coast, today it is those facilities resuming production that has driven prices lower in the same regions. For more than a month California has been the nation’s most expensive state for gasoline. Today’s price in the Golden State is $3.20 followed by Hawaii ($3.14), Alaska ($2.91), Nevada ($2.80) and Washington ($2.75). South Carolina ($2.10), Tennessee ($2.14) and New Jersey ($2.16) are the least expensive markets in the country for retail gasoline.

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Consumers in 34 states and Washington, D.C., are paying less at the pump than one week ago, with the largest price drops in Michigan (-11 cents), California (-6 cents) and Oregon (-4 cents). Over the same period the price has moved higher in 16 states. The most dramatic increase was in Florida, where prices rose more than 10 cents during this span. While weekly declines have been experienced in many states, gas prices are still higher over the past month in most of the country. The price at the pump has increased in 32 states and Washington, D.C., with consumers in nine states paying premiums of a dime or more per gallon compared to a month ago. The largest monthly increases have occurred in Utah (+46 cents), Idaho (+44 cents) and Illinois (+22 cents).

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While prices over the past month are higher for many drivers, year-over-year price comparisons continue to highlight universal savings. Sharply lower oil prices have resulted in substantially less expensive gas prices in every state, including a price at the pump that is discounted by $1 or more per gallon in 43 states and Washington, D.C.

After briefly rising back above $50 per barrel last week, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped back below that threshold to end last week. Crude prices have fallen to multi-year lows due largely to ample global production. The possibility of increased exports from Iran should a nuclear deal be reached this week would further increase production and has for now offset any “risk premium” stemming from regional stability due to violence in Yemen. A possible deal between the West and Iran could bring an estimated 500,000 barrels per day of additional oil to the global market, which would add more supply to an already well-supplied market and exert further downward pressure on crude prices. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled down $2.56 at $48.87 per barrel.

Crude Oil Prices Reach a Six-Year Low

March 23rd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015) The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil reached a six-year low this past week, keeping downward pressure on the national price of gasoline. This downward pressure has, at least temporarily, offset potential price gains from robust demand, regional refinery maintenance and the seasonal transition to more expensive summer-blend gasoline. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.42 per gallon. Consumers are paying fractions of a penny less than one week ago, 14 cents more than one month ago and continue to save more than $1 dollar per gallon ($1.10) in comparison to this same date last year. The national average has now fallen for 13 of the past 16 days.

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Despite steady gasoline production following a number of regional refinery issues, drivers on the West Coast continue to pay some of the nation’s highest averages for retail gasoline. Warmer temperatures in the region are credited with driving increased demand, and with ExxonMobil’s Los Angeles-area refinery and Tesoro’s Martinez refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area both running at reduced rates, supply has been unable to keep pace with growing demand. For the fourth consecutive week California ($3.27) remains the nation’s most expensive state for gasoline, followed by Hawaii ($3.15), Alaska ($2.92), Nevada ($2.82) and Oregon ($2.79). South Carolina ($2.11), Tennessee ($2.15) and Alabama ($2.16) are the least expensive markets in the country for retail gasoline.

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Consumers in 38 states are experiencing week-over-week savings at the pump, with the largest price drops seen in California (-10 cents), Minnesota (-8 cents) and Maine (-7 cents). The movements in price were relatively small in the majority of these states (- 3 cents or less), with the average price falling by a nickel or more in only six states.  On the other end of the spectrum, the price has moved higher in 12 states and Washington, D.C. Motorists in six states are paying  an extra nickel or more per gallon, with the biggest jumps in price seen in the Midwestern states of Illinois (+27 cents), Michigan (+24 cents) and Indiana (+17 cents). Dramatic price swings are unfortunately nothing new for Midwest drivers who have seen frequent price volatility in recent years. This most recent increase has been keyed by issues at two major regional refineries: BP’s refinery in Whiting, Ind. and ExxonMobil’s refinery in Joliet, Ill.

The majority of drivers are paying more at the pump compared to one month ago. With the exception of Tennessee (+2 cents), pump prices have moved higher in 48 states and Washington, D.C. by a nickel or more per gallon month-over-month. Consumers in 30 states are paying premiums of a dime or more per gallon, versus one month ago , with the largest increases occurring in Utah (+50 cents), Idaho (+50 cents) and California (+37 cents). Delaware (-2 cents) and Georgia (-1 cent) are the only two states to buck this trend by posting monthly savings in the price at the pump.

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Year-over-year price comparisons continue to reflect an overall savings for motorists. The price at the pump is discounted in every state and Washington, D.C., with the majority of states (41) and Washington, D.C. posting savings of $1 or more per gallon. Retail prices are down by more than $1.25 in three states: Colorado (-$1.38), Indiana (-$1.29) and Connecticut (-$1.27).

Global crude prices continued to tumble with reports of growing supply and the strengthening U.S. dollar. The likelihood of a possible nuclear deal between the West and Iran also has the potential to bring more oil to the global market. Additionally, comments by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister yesterday indicated that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would not cut oil production to increase global oil prices, instead electing to let the market self-correct.

The domestic oil market in the U.S is facing similar oversupply dynamics and concerns that rising U.S. production could outpace storage capacity is contributing to lower prices. WTI fell to its lowest level since the 2009 Great Recession this past week, although prices did recover some of those losses to end the week. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled up $1.76 at $45.72 per barrel.

 

Gas Prices Drop for Nine Straight Days

March 16th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 16, 2015) After rising for 40 days in a row, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has now fallen for nine straight days to today’s average of $2.42 per gallon. Today’s national average is three cents less than one week ago, but 18 cents more than one month ago. Compared to this same date last year, consumers are saving an average of $1.09 per gallon at the pump.

Gas prices may continue to drop in the near future due to a steep decline in the cost of crude oil. Crude oil prices declined by more than 10 percent last week due to abundant supplies, a stronger U.S. dollar, and the possibility of even more oil entering the market soon. Every $10 per barrel decline in the cost of crude oil can send gas prices down by nearly 25 cents per gallon.

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The national average tends to moves higher this time of year because refineries conduct planned maintenance, which can limit fuel production. Refineries are also beginning to transition to summer-blend fuel in advance of the May 1 deadline. As part of this process, refineries draw down current inventories of winter-blend fuel, which can further constrain supplies. However, gas prices should remain relatively cheap because crude oil costs are much lower than recent years and U.S. inventories have risen for nine straight weeks, which should keep downward pressure on retail gasoline markets.

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The West Coast is still recovering from localized refinery issues and remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline. Motorists in California ($3.37) continue to pay the highest pump prices in the nation, and the retail price is likely to remain relatively high due to lingering limited supply. California is followed by Hawaii ($3.14), Alaska ($2.91), Nevada ($2.87) and Oregon ($2.86) as the nation’s the top five most expensive markets. On the other end of the spectrum, drivers in South Carolina ($2.14), Indiana ($2.19) and Tennessee ($2.19) are paying the least per gallon to refuel their vehicles.

Weekly price comparisons in most states reflect relatively stable prices, with the average price moving by +/- 2 cents in 36 states. However, a handful of states have seen prices move more dramatically. Prices in Idaho (+15 cents) and Utah (+14 cents) have moved sharply higher, largely due to regional refinery issues, while one-week price drops in Ohio (-12 cents) and Indiana (-11 cents) headline the 42 states where prices have fallen.

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Month-over-month comparisons continue to show that the majority of drivers (45 states and Washington, D.C.) are paying more at the pump. The average price for retail gasoline has climbed by more than a dime per gallon in 42 states and Washington, D.C., and motorists in four states have seen prices increase by 50 cents or more over this same period: California (+60 cents), Oregon (+52 cents), Washington (+51 cents) and Idaho (+51 cents). A handful of Midwest states are bucking this trend, as prices are down in Indiana (-12 cents), Ohio (-9 cents), Kentucky (-6 cents), Michigan (-4 cents) and Illinois (-2 cents) versus one month ago.

Despite fluctuations in the retail gasoline market, consumers are still experiencing significant savings year-over-year. The average price is discounted in every state and Washington, D.C. compared to this same date last year. Drivers in seven states are saving $1.25 or more per gallon, led by Indiana (-$1.50), Michigan (-$1.47) and Ohio (-$1.45).

The global oil market remains oversupplied, and relatively high U.S. production levels continue to support bearish market sentiment. This trend is likely to continue as warmer weather in the Bakken region of the United States allows for increased output after production levels in the region slipped in January.

The possibility of geopolitical events in major production regions is likely keep the market relatively volatile in the near term. Speculation is beginning about the agenda for OPEC’s first scheduled meeting of the year, and whether the cartel will intervene to cut oil production in order to pressure prices higher in the global market. Without signals of a decision being made in advance of this meeting, the market will be left to self-regulate in search of bottom.

The divergence between Brent and West Texas Intermediate, the two most cited oil benchmarks, remains approximately $10 per barrel, just shy of February’s 14-month high of $13 per barrel. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI fell $2.21 and settled at $44.84 per barrel.

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