March 16th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(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.
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.
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.
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.
March 12th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
ORLANDO, Fla. (March 12, 2015) – As snow continues in many parts of the country, travelers are ready to escape to warmer weather and sunny destinations, according to AAA. Warm destinations offering fun-filled activities for families will experience the largest influx of travelers this spring season, followed by ever-popular vacation destinations Washington, D.C., New York City, Seattle and San Francisco.
AAA Travel’s top spring travel destinations, based on AAA.com hotel bookings, are:
- Orlando, Fla.
- Los Angeles, Calif. (Anaheim)
- San Diego, Calif.
- Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- Miami, Fla.
- Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- Washington, D.C.
- New York, N.Y.
- Seattle, Wash.
- San Francisco, Calif.
“It’s clear that travelers are seeking warm weather destinations this spring as they look to escape the cold after a particularly harsh winter,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Senior Vice President of Travel and Publishing. “In addition to great domestic destination getaways, cruises, tours and vacation packages to international destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean are also popular vacations this spring.”
Theme parks continue to be a popular vacation option, as evidenced by Orlando and Los Angeles holding top spots on this year’s list. Universal Orlando Resort is an increasingly popular destination with new attractions including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the new family-friendly Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
AAA Vacations, a collection of cruises, guided tours and independent vacations, offers unique, engaging travel experiences that range from exploring the Galapagos to touring America’s national parks, and are available at more than 1,000 AAA Travel offices. Each itinerary is designed with the AAA member in mind and includes built-in value along with exclusive member benefits such as 24/7 Member Care and Best Price Guarantee.
With all the options available to travelers today, vacation planning can be a daunting task. To maximize a spring break vacation, AAA recommends travelers seek the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor, who can provide personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge to create a memorable vacation experience. For more information and to begin planning a vacation, visit AAA.com/Travel.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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.
March 9th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, March 9, 2015) The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline fell yesterday for the first time since increasing for 40 consecutive days, which was the longest streak of daily price increases since 2011. During this period, average gas prices increased by 43 cents per gallon, but have fallen by a half cent since Saturday. While today’s price of $2.45 per gallon is three cents more than one week ago and 28 cents more than one month ago, pump prices continue to reflect a substantial yearly discount. Compared to the same date last year motorists are saving an average of $1.04 per gallon.
Retail gas prices typically trend higher this time of year as suppliers undergo maintenance and plan to reduce winter grade fuel in preparation for the changeover to summer-grade gasoline, which is more costly to produce. West Coast markets have seen particularly dramatic run-ups over the last several weeks due to a number of supply issues. An explosion last month at ExxonMobil’s refinery in Torrance, Calif. has kept that facility running at severely reduced rates. Production at Tesoro’s refinery in Martinez, Calif. also remains limited as it aims to restart after recent planned maintenance.
The result for motorists is a statewide average in California ($3.43) that is the highest in the nation and 30 cents more expensive than second-place Hawaii. Environmental regulations require the state to sell specialized blends of gasoline, which limits the state’s ability to substitute fuel from neighboring markets to overcome supply shortages. It also can be difficult for the West Coast to meet demand when there are refinery disruptions because there are no pipelines to major refining regions east of the Rockies. The West Coast is the most expensive region for retail gasoline with Alaska ($2.90), Oregon ($2.88) and Nevada ($2.88) rounding out the nation’s top five most expensive markets. Motorists in South Carolina ($2.16), Wyoming ($2.16) and Montana ($2.20) are paying the least per gallon to refuel their vehicles.
The majority of drivers nationwide are paying more to refuel their vehicles versus one week ago. Prices have moved higher in 45 states and Washington, D.C. week-over-week, led by the Rocky Mountain states of Idaho (+21 cents) and Utah (+21 cents). Motorist in 30 states are paying a nickel or more per gallon and the price at the pump has moved higher in six states by a dime or more per gallon in comparison to one week ago. Over this same period, the price at the pump has fallen in five Mid-continent states: Michigan (-13 cents), Indiana (-11 cents), Ohio (-10 cents), Illinois (-5 cents) and Kentucky (-2 cents). Two-week price comparisons reflect a similar trend with prices rising in 47 states. The most dramatic increases in retail averages over this two-week period have been on the West Coast. California (+48 cents), Oregon (+43 cents) and Washington (+40 cents) are joined by five additional states where drivers are paying more than a quarter per gallon versus 14 days ago.
Monthly comparisons show rising prices in every state and Washington, D.C. Twenty-seven states are paying an average of a quarter or more per gallon and the price has moved higher by a dime or more in 45 states and Washington, D.C. over this same period. Consumers on the West Coast have again experienced the most extreme jumps in price with California (+84 cents), Oregon (+66 cents), Washington (+63 cents) and Nevada (+57 cents) boasting month-over-month increases of more than 50 cents per gallon.
Year-over-year savings continue to erode as production challenges in California and seasonal refinery maintenance across the country pressure prices higher in many markets. The average price for retail gasoline remains cheaper in every state and Washington, D.C., however, the number of states posting a yearly savings of $1 or more (38 states) continues to diminish. California (-47 cents) is the only state where savings are less than 50 cents per gallon, and drivers in five states are saving more than $1.25 per gallon: Michigan (-$1.41), Indiana (-$1.36), Colorado (-$1.35), Illinois (-$1.32) and Ohio (-$1.27).
The global price of crude oil remains volatile due to speculations about possible production cuts due to oversupply and news of rising global demand. Absent any intervention from OPEC, global prices are expected to continue to fluctuate as markets attempt to self-regulate and find balance. U.S. production continues to hit record levels, and according to the EIA’s most recent report, stockpiles have climbed to their highest weekly levels since the energy agency started collecting statistical data on the subject in 1982. Abundant domestic supply has also kept the spread between WTI and Brent crude relatively wide. The gap in price currently stands at about $10 per barrel. Historically, when the global market is balanced, the disparity in benchmark pricing is around plus or minus $2 per barrel; however the spread has varied widely over the past several years.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI closed down $1.15 settling at $49.61 per barrel.
March 2nd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, March 2, 2015) Significant price jumps in West Coast markets due to refinery outages and operational issues have kept upward pressure on the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline. The national average has moved higher for 35 consecutive days, the longest streak of increases since February 2013, during which the national average has increased 39 cents per gallon. Today’s price of $2.43 per gallon represents an increase of 13 cents in comparison to one week ago. The 13-cent weekly increase is the largest spike since July 2013. Although the price at the pump remains at a significant discount in comparison to this same date last year, consumer savings continue to narrow and are currently at $1.03 per gallon – 22 cents per gallon below the peak savings of $1.25 per gallon on January 26.
Gas prices historically tend to rise during this time of year as refineries nationwide conduct planned seasonal maintenance that can limit fuel production. However, unexpected refinery outages on the West Coast have exacerbated seasonal production declines, and the price at the pump has jumped significantly higher in impacted markets. Drivers in California have been subject to the most dramatic increases. Average price for retail gasoline in the state climbed by 13 cents over a 24-hour period due to supply shortages and the impact of last week’s explosion at ExxonMobil’s refinery in Torrance, California, and the broader price impact is currently being felt in a number of West Coast markets.
California ($3.39) has unseated Hawaii ($3.05) as the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline for the first time since October 2012. Unlike other states, California cannot easily import gasoline from neighboring markets due to environmental regulations that require specialized fuel blends in the state. The neighboring states of Nevada ($2.79), Oregon ($2.78) and Washington ($2.72) have also been impacted by the regional production issues, and are joined by Alaska ($2.77) as the nation’s most expensive markets for retail gasoline. No state is posting an average below the $2 per gallon threshold. Motorists in Utah ($2.05), Idaho ($2.05) and Wyoming ($2.09) are paying the least per gallon to refuel their vehicles.
Retail averages have moved higher in every state and Washington, D.C. over the past week. Consumers on the West Coast have seen the sharpest increases in the price at the pump over this period, led by: California (+43 cents), Oregon (+32 cents) and Washington (+27 cents). The price is up by a dime or more per gallon in 20 states, and motorists in 47 states and Washington, D.C. are paying at least a nickel more per gallon to refuel their vehicles versus one week ago. This trend also holds true for two-week price comparisons, where 44 states are posting premiums of a dime or more per gallon. The largest two-week increases have also taken place in California (+59 cents), Oregon (+42 cents) and Washington (+38 cents).
With the exception of Hawaii (-9 cents), monthly comparisons show American motorists are paying more to refuel their vehicles than one month ago. Month-over-month prices are up by more than a dime per gallon in 48 states and Washington, D.C., and 38 states are registering premiums of a quarter or more per gallon. Drivers in California (+95 cents), Oregon (+66 cents), Washington (+59 cents) and Nevada (+58 cents) once again headline increases, with prices moving higher by more than 50 cents per gallon over this period.
Production concerns in California, along with the broader impact of seasonal refinery maintenance, have further eroded the year-over-year savings experienced by many drivers nationwide. Although the price at the pump remains discounted in every state and Washington, D.C., six fewer markets (40) than one week ago are posting yearly savings of $1 or more per gallon. While yearly discounts are narrowing, five states continue to post savings of $1.25 or more: Colorado ($1.35), Michigan ($1.27), Connecticut ($1.26), Idaho ($1.26) and Utah ($1.26).
Volatility remains a central theme in the global oil market, and reports of increased production from Libya and a rise in exports from Iraq will likely keep global prices on the move. U.S. production companies are beginning to scale back plans for exploration and production, and the number of U.S. oil rigs in operation continues to decrease in light of shrinking profit margins and the global market’s continuing oversupply. Nevertheless, production remains high and stocks continue to build. This abundance in domestic production is widening the gap between the domestic benchmark WTI and its global counterpart Brent crude. The gap in price, which is now approximately $13 per barrel, is viewed by analysts as an advantage for U.S. refineries.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was up $1.59 settling at $49.76 per barrel.
February 23rd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, February 23, 2015) The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased for 28 consecutive days for a total of 27 cents per gallon, which is the longest streak of rising prices since last spring. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.30 per gallon. Motorists are paying five cents more than one week ago and 26 cents more than one month ago to refuel their vehicles. The year-over-year discount at the pump has narrowed in recent weeks but remains lofty by historic standards. After yearly savings widened to as much as $1.25 per gallon on January 26, motorists are now saving $1.11 per gallon versus this same date last year.
Refineries are in the midst of conducting seasonal maintenance, a process that can limit fuel production and contribute to rising pump prices. In addition, there remains the potential for unexpected refinery problems to further impact production and cause temporary prices spikes in various regions. Last week an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance helped push up prices in California, while bitterly cold weather in the Northeast and Midwest led to a number of refinery problems in those areas. Ample domestic supply is expected to keep a ceiling on prices, though there is a good chance that prices will continue to rise this spring.
Compared to the start of February when motorists in 25 states enjoyed average prices below $2 per gallon, drivers in just two states today are paying an average price below this threshold. For the second week in a row, motorists in Utah ($1.95), Idaho (1.95) and Montana ($2.01) are paying the least per gallon to refuel their vehicles. On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii ($3.04) remains the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline and is the only state with an average above $3 per gallon. California ($2.95), Alaska ($2.61), Nevada ($2.55) and New York ($2.49) round out the top five most expensive markets.
With the exception of Kentucky (-6 cents) and Illinois (-2 cents), most American drivers are paying a bit more to refuel their vehicles than a week ago. Prices have inched higher in 48 states and Washington, D.C. with four states registering increases of a dime or more per gallon: California (+16 cents), Nevada (+ 11 cents), Oregon (+11 cents) and Washington (+10 cents). The overall trend of rising prices is also apparent in two-week price comparisons, where the average price is up in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Drivers in more than half (27) of states are paying a dime or more per gallon. Hawaii (-1 cent) is the only state where the price has fallen over this two-week period.
Month-over-month prices have jumped in 47 states and Washington, D.C. Consumers in 19 of these states are paying a quarter or more per gallon compared to one month ago, led by: California (+49 cents), Ohio (+43 cents), Michigan (+39 cents) and Illinois (+37 cents). Retail averages moved lower over this same period in three states and drivers in Hawaii (-23 cents), Alaska (-15 cents) and Vermont (fractions of a penny) are experiencing monthly savings at the pump.
Rising pump prices are beginning to erode, but historic declines from September to January continue to mean significant year-over-year savings at the pump. The price for retail gasoline remains discounted in every state and Washington D.C., and consumers in 46 states and Washington, D.C are saving more than $1 per gallon, led by four states with yearly savings of more than $1.25 per gallon: Connecticut ($1.35), Colorado ($1.31), Utah ($1.29) and Idaho ($1.29).
Global crude oil prices remain volatile, with markets continuing to seesaw and West Texas Intermediate crude oil last week posting its first weekly loss in a month. The balance between global supply and demand continues to weigh on prices, and despite U.S. production companies reassessing plans for exploration and production amid shrinking profit margins, domestic crude oil inventories climbed to record levels and output rose to its highest level since 1973, according to a Department of Energy report released last week.
WTI closed last week at its lowest level since February 11, settling down 82 cents at $50.34 per barrel at the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX.
February 17th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, February 17, 2015) The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased every day since January 27 for a total of 22 cents per gallon over 22 days. Today’s average price of $2.26 per gallon is seven cents more than one week ago and 19 cents more than one month ago. Consumers are still saving $1.10 per gallon at the pump in comparison to this date last year, a spread that has slowly started to narrow after widening to as much as $1.25 per gallon on January 26.
Gas prices have increased sharply due to more expensive crude oil costs and the start of refinery maintenance season. Gas prices typically increase this time of year as refineries conduct maintenance, which can limit fuel production. Rising crude oil costs have also made it more expensive for refineries to produce gasoline, which has contributed to higher pump prices.
Even with the national average trending higher, ample gasoline supplies and lower crude oil costs than in recent years should prevent prices from rising as high as in recent memory. In addition, severe cold weather, particularly in the Northeast and Midwestern United States, may limit driving and gasoline demand in the near term. Barring any major disruptions in supply, AAA anticipates drivers will continue to pay below $3 per gallon throughout 2015.
With prices increasing across the country, a shrinking number of states are registering an average below $2 per gallon, only Utah ($1.93) Idaho ($1.94) and Montana ($1.97) remain below this threshold. Hawaii ($3.03) continues to lead the market and is the only state with an average above $3 per gallon. California ($2.80), Alaska ($2.57), New York ($2.46) and Nevada ($2.44) round out the nation’s top five most expensive markets for retail gasoline.
Weekly comparisons continue to show that nearly all drivers are paying more to refuel their vehicles. The price at the pump has inched higher in 48 states, with 33 of these states registering increases of a nickel or more per gallon week-over-week. Motorists in California (+15 cents), Arizona (+12 cents), Oregon (+12 cents) and Delaware (+11 cents) are experiencing the sharpest increases over this period. On the other end of the spectrum, the average price at the pump has fallen in Alaska (-5 cents), Hawaii (-2 cents) and Washington, D.C. (fractions of a penny) versus one week ago. Two-week price comparisons also reflect overall increases in the price at the pump. The average price has jumped in the same 48 states and Washington, D.C., with the majority of states (41) registering double-digit premiums versus two weeks ago. California (+34 cents) and Oregon (+25 cents) are registering the largest increases in price over this period.
Consumers in 42 states are paying higher prices month-over-month, and the price is up by a dime or more in the bulk (33) of these states. Twelve states are posting increases of a quarter or more, led by the mid-continent states of Michigan (+36 cents), Kansas (+35 cents), Illinois (+34 cents), and Missouri (+33). The price at the pump is lower than one month ago in just eight states and Washington, D.C., headlined by Hawaii (-31 cents) and Alaska (-25 cents), where consumers are saving the most per gallon in comparison to one month ago.
Despite recently higher prices, year-over-year comparisons still reflect savings nationwide. Drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. are saving at the pump, and the average price is down by $1 or more in 46 states and Washington, D.C.
OPEC’s decision not to act as a market-stabilizer is beginning impact global energy development, as companies in countries with more expensive production costs have reportedly begun curtailing investments and employment. The global price of Brent crude rallied this past week and closed above the $60 per barrel benchmark for the first time in 2015. This represents an increase of more than 30 percent since mid-January and is reflective of the global oil market’s overall volatility.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, domestic WTI crude settled at $52.78 per barrel, up $1.57 on the day.
February 9th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, February 9, 2015) The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased every day for two weeks for a total of 14 cents per gallon. Gas prices had previously dropped for a record 123 consecutive days before beginning to rise again on January 27. Today’s price of $2.18 per gallon is 12 cents more than one week ago and three cents more than one month ago. While prices have moved higher recently, the national average remains significantly less expensive than one year ago when consumers were paying $1.11 more per gallon on average to refuel their vehicles.
February typically marks the start of seasonal refinery maintenance in preparation for the busy summer driving season. Refineries usually schedule maintenance during the first several months of the year when demand is relatively low, which can lead to decreased production and supplies.
There is additional market uncertainty this week because approximately 5,200 members of the United Steelworkers union have walked off their jobs at refineries and chemical plants responsible for processing more than 10 percent of U.S. petroleum products. While this is the first nationwide strike at U.S. oil refineries since 1980, the work stoppage is not expected to have a significant impact on production in the short-term because refineries continue to operate. While news of the strike has reportedly led to higher wholesale gasoline prices, abundant petroleum supplies may provide both refiners and unions with a chance to reach an agreement before there is a larger impact on consumers.
Five states are registering averages below $2 per gallon, representing 20 fewer than one week ago. Thirty-nine states are posting averages below $2.25 per gallon, and for the second week in a row motorists in Idaho ($1.89) are paying the least per gallon for retail gasoline. The Rocky Mountain states of Utah ($1.90) and Montana ($1.93) round out the nation’s least expensive markets. Hawaii ($3.05) is the only state posting an average above $3 per gallon, and is joined by California ($2.63), Alaska ($2.60), New York ($2.42) and Washington, D.C. ($2.41) as the nation’s top five most expensive markets.
On the whole, consumers are paying a bit more to refuel their vehicles compared to one week ago. Week-over-week prices are higher in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Over this same period consumers in 32 states are paying a dime or more per gallon, with the largest increases experienced by drivers in Ohio (+19 cents), California (+18 cents), Minnesota (+17 cents) and Kansas (+16 cents). Hawaii (-6 cents) and Alaska (-4 cents) were the only two states to see price declines.
Two-week price comparisons also reflect increases in the average price for retail gasoline in 45 states and Washington, D.C. Drivers in 30 states are paying a dime or more per gallon at the pump over this span, led by the Midwestern states of Ohio (+35 cents), Illinois (+28 cents) and Michigan (+27 cents) where the price has increased by a more than a quarter per gallon over this period. The price at the pump has fallen in five states during the same span, with the biggest drops seen in Hawaii (-19 cents) and Alaska (-12 cents).
The majority of U.S. drivers are continuing to enjoy month-over-month savings. However, price comparisons are a bit more balanced than prior weeks with averages down in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Consumers in Hawaii (-38 cents), Alaska (-35 cents) and Vermont (-25 cents) are saving the most per gallon, and 16 states and Washington D.C. are registering discounts of more than a dime per gallon. On the other end of the spectrum, motorists in 21 states are paying more at the pump. The price has jumped by a dime or more per gallon in 11 states versus one month ago, with the largest increases in price seen in Michigan (+26 cents), Ohio (+23 cents) and Indiana (+23 cents).
Motorists universally continue to experience yearly savings at the pump. With the exception of Nevada (-99 cents) and Hawaii (-98 cents), the price is down by $1 or more per gallon in every state and Washington, D.C. Drivers in three states: Connecticut (-$1.33), Maine (-$1.26) and Rhode Island (-$1.26) are saving more than $1.25 per gallon, which is 10 fewer states than last week’s report.
An oversupplied global market is expected to keep the price of crude relatively low for at least the first half of 2015. Nonetheless, the global market’s overall volatility is at a six-year high and prices have seesawed, often daily, in response to a number of factors that are putting pressure on the balance between supply and demand. High-cost production countries continue to reassess their overall production goals, and Saudi Arabia is currently maneuvering to protect its market share by adjusting prices to various countries, including Asia and the United States.
This past week WTI traded between the high $40s and low $50s, reflecting the global market’s volatility. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was up $1.21 to settle at $51.69 per barrel.
February 2nd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, February 2, 2015)
Gas Prices Increasing After Dropping to Lowest Levels Since 2009
- U.S. average gas prices have increased seven days in a row for a total of two cents per gallon. Gas prices had declined a record 123 consecutive days to $2.03 per gallon before increasing last week for the first time since September 25.
- “Many drivers are noticing an uptick in gas prices for the first time in months,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesman. “It is typical to see gas prices increase this time of year due to refinery issues, yet hopefully the consumer impact will be less problematic given how low prices are today.”
- Today’s national average price of gas is $2.06 per gallon, which is about $1.22 per gallon less than a year ago. AAA estimates that Americans are spending about $365 million less per day on gasoline compared to this time last year.
- The national average price of gas reached a current 2015 low on January 26 of $2.03 per gallon, which was the lowest average since March 27, 2009.
- Gas prices have dropped about $1.64 per gallon since reaching a national average of $3.70 per gallon on April 28, 2014.
- The average price of gas in January was $2.11 per gallon, which was the cheapest monthly average since April 2009. Gas prices in December 2014 averaged a much higher $2.51 per gallon, while the average was $3.30 per gallon in January 2014.
- Gas prices have increased due to a combination of refinery issues and more stable crude oil costs. Refinery maintenance season is beginning and there also have been a number of refinery upsets, which can limit production. In addition, crude oil prices have stabilized, which has prevented any further declines in the price of gasoline.
- Average gas prices had dropped to nearly $2 per gallon due to the steep decline in the cost of crude oil during the previous six month. Domestic crude oil prices (WTI) have fallen by more than half since June due to abundant supplies. U.S. oil production has increased by more than 70 percent since 2008, and this increase in production has helped to outstrip global demand, especially as economic concerns mount in both Asia and Europe.
- Gas prices generally are at or near seasonal lows in January due to relatively weak demand. Many Americans cut back on driving and travel during the cold winter months, which can allow gasoline supplies to build.
Consumers Likely to See Gas Prices Continue Rising in February
- AAA expects gas prices to increase this month due to refinery maintenance and decreased production. It is not uncommon for gas prices to increase 30-50 cents per gallon between early February and the middle of spring. Gas prices in February have increased during the previous five years by an average of 22 cents per gallon.
- “It is a good bet that most drivers will pay more for gasoline in March than today,” continued Ash. “Yet even if gas prices increase as expected, drivers should continue paying at least a dollar less on gasoline than what they spent in recent years during the spring.”
- Gas prices should remain less expensive than in recent years due to lower crude oil costs. AAA does not expect the national average price of gas to rise above $3 per gallon in 2015.
- It is possible that gas prices could rise more slowly or even drop if there are further significant declines in the cost of crude oil. At this point, the crude oil market remains very volatile and it is possible that crude oil supplies could build further during refinery maintenance season. A significant reduction in crude oil prices could limit any prices increases due to refinery maintenance.
- Many refineries conduct maintenance and upgrades in the spring to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season. This maintenance can reduce gasoline production at a time when both driving and gasoline demand rises as the weather improves.
More than Half of U.S. Stations Selling Gas for Less than $2 per Gallon
- Gas prices remain relatively cheap across the country with more than half (52 percent) of U.S. stations selling gas for less than $2 per gallon today. The most common price in the country is $1.999 per gallon. More than 6 in 10 stations were selling gas for less than $2 per gallon a week ago.
- Drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than $2 per gallon in every state within the continental United States. No stations in Alaska or Hawaii have reached that mark.
- The five states with the lowest average prices today include: Idaho ($1.85), Texas ($1.87), Oklahoma ($1.87), South Carolina ($1.87) and Utah ($1.87). The five states with the highest average prices today include: Hawaii ($3.11), Alaska ($2.64), California ($2.45), New York ($2.39) and Vermont ($2.30).
- Twenty-five states have an average gas price below $2 per gallon, though this number has decreased from 28 states last week.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 2nd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, February 2, 2015) After falling a record 123 consecutive days, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline inched upward on Tuesday, Jan. 27 by fractions of a penny. Today’s price of $2.06 per gallon represents a total increase of two cents per gallon since once week ago, but remains 16 cents less than one month ago and $1.22 less than one year ago.
Gas prices have begun to increase due to a series of refinery issues in the Midwest and because crude oil prices are trading at more stable levels following a multi-month selloff.
Similar to years past, the national average is expected to rise in the coming months due to the seasonal demand increase and refinery maintenance. However, global oil prices continue to register multi-year lows with supply outpacing demand, and barring any events that cause the global price to increase substantially, AAA expects that the U.S. average will remain below $3 per gallon throughout 2015.
Increasing prices are reflected across the country with 25 states registering averages below $2 per gallon, which is down three states from last week’s report. Idaho ($1.85) is joined by Texas ($1.87) and Oklahoma ($1.87) as the nation’s least expensive markets for retail gasoline. Hawaii ($3.11) remains the only state posting an average above $3 per gallon, followed by Alaska ($2.64), California ($2.45), Washington, D.C. ($2.39) and New York ($2.39) as the top five most expensive markets.
Weekly price comparisons are a bit more balanced than prior weeks, largely due to prices beginning to rise in a number of states. Motorists in 27 states and Washington, D.C. are saving at the pump. Hawaii (-13 cents) is the only state posting a double-digit savings week-over-week, and the price is down by a nickel or more in a total of three states including Alaska (-8 cents) and Vermont (-5 cents). On the other end of the spectrum, drivers in 23 states are paying a bit more to refuel their vehicles over the past week. The largest price increases are in the Midwestern states of Ohio (+15 cents), Michigan (+14 cents) and Illinois (+13 cents), where refinery issues are keeping upward pressure on the price at the pump. A total of 10 states have seen the price creep a nickel higher or more since one week ago.
The majority of consumers in the U.S. are still enjoying month-over-month savings, with the exception of Indiana (+23 cents), Michigan (+17 cents), Ohio (+12 cents) and Illinois (+1 cent) where the price has moved higher. The average price has dropped in 46 states and Washington, D.C., over this same period and motorists in Wyoming (-43 cents), Utah (-40 cents) and Hawaii (-38 cents) are saving the most per gallon. Thirty-nine states and Washington, D.C. are saving more than a dime and 21 states are posting monthly savings of a quarter or more per gallon.
Year-over-year calculations continue to reflect the most dramatic savings in the price of retail gasoline. With the exception of Hawaii (-91 cents), drivers every state and Washington, D.C. are saving at least $1 per gallon at the pump. Connecticut (-$1.38), Maine (-$1.37), Rhode Island (-$1.35) and Arizona (-$1.33) are registering the largest savings over this period, joined by 10 additional states where the price at the pump is discounted by $1.25 or more per gallon.
Global oil prices are expected to remain relatively low during the first half of 2015, largely due to OPEC’s paradigm-shifting decision not to support higher oil prices by cutting production. Saudi Arabia, a key player in the decision and OPEC’s largest producer, is well positioned to weather the current volatility due to low production costs and a significant amount of savings accumulated during years of relatively high crude prices.
The ripple effects of sharply lower prices for crude are beginning to surface in both high-cost production countries as well as in producer nations that depend on oil revenue to balance budgets and provide social services to citizens. Production companies around the globe are challenged with the decision of either cutting investments or continuing to supply the market at dramatically lower profit margins. Reports have begun that some of these higher cost production projects are already opting to scale back investments and near-term spending, which could put some upward pressure on the global market for crude oil.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was up $3.71 to settle at $48.24 per barrel, which was the highest settlement in about two weeks.
January 26th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, January 26, 2015) The national average continues to march toward $2.00 per gallon and has fallen for a record 123 consecutive days, for a total savings of $1.31 per gallon. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.03 per gallon. Motorists are paying three cents less than one week ago, 27 cents less than one month ago and saving $1.25 per gallon in comparison to this same date last year. While the streak of daily declines in the national averages continues, the rate of decline has slowed in recent days. After dropping for an average of more than a penny a day for the first 16 days of 2015, the average drop over the past ten days has been just half a penny. This slowing decline has been largely reflective of a number of Midwestern states where prices have moved higher over the past week due to a series of refinery issues in the region.
The Northeast is bracing for a major winter storm that could dump up to three feet of snow on parts of the region. While a snowfall such as this might pressure gasoline prices immediately higher on distribution concerns, the longer term impact is expected to be downward pressure on pump prices from lower demand, as drivers stay off the roads. However, increased demand for diesel fuel, which is also used to heat homes and power generators during electricity outages, would be expected to pressure diesel prices higher during the duration of the storm’s impact.
The falling prices at the pump are a product of global oil prices tumbling to multi-year lows. While gas prices are likely to increase this spring due to seasonal demand and maintenance, barring any major increase in the global price of crude, AAA expects the national average to remain below $3 per gallon during 2015.
Hawaii ($3.24) remains the only state posting an average price for retail gasoline above $3 per gallon, and is joined by Alaska ($2.72) as the only two states with averages above $2.50 per gallon. California ($2.45), New York ($2.43) and Washington, D.C. ($2.41) round out the nation’s top five most expensive markets. Twenty-eight states are posting averages below $2 per gallon, with the lowest prices in Missouri ($1.78), Oklahoma ($1.81), Kansas ($1.83), Texas ($1.84) and New Mexico ($1.85).
As outlined above, the trend of falling weekly averages is beginning to ease. While 40 states and Washington, D.C. are registering savings over the past seven days, drivers in ten states are paying a bit more at the pump over the same period. Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. are posting savings of a nickel or more, and two states Ohio (-10 cents) and Alaska (-10 cents) are reflecting double-digit savings. The largest increases over this span are the Midwestern states of Indiana (+10 cents) and Michigan (+5 cents).
Virtually all drivers in the U.S. are continuing to experience savings at the pump compared to one month ago. The only state bucking this trend is Indiana, where the price has inched upward by fractions of a penny versus one month ago due to regional production issues. With the exception of Kentucky (-5 cents), averages are down in every other state and Washington, D.C. by more than one dime per gallon month-over-month. Wyoming (-51 cents), Utah (-51 cents), Rhode Island (-43 cents) and Connecticut (-43 cents) are posting the largest discounts over this period, and an additional 35 states and Washington, D.C. are posting discounts of a quarter or more per gallon.
Yearly comparisons continue to reflect the most dramatic discounts, largely due to multi-month declines in the price of retail gasoline. Alaska (-92 cents) and Hawaii (-77 cents), the nation’s most expensive retail markets, are the only two states not posting yearly discounts of at least $1 per gallon. A total of 24 states are registering savings of $1.25 or more per gallon year-over-year, with the sharpest declines in Ohio (-$1.39), Illinois (-$1.37) and Connecticut (-$1.37).
The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah caused the global oil markets to slightly rally this past week on rumors that OPEC’s largest producer could possibly reassess its production levels and potentially decrease the current glut in global oil supply. King Abdullah’s successor, Crown Prince Salman, calmed the market by deciding to keep the current oil minister in his position and signaling no plans to change the country’s current production plans. By sustaining its current production levels, the resiliency of high-cost production countries like the U.S. and Canada will continue to be tested as the market is left to self-regulate at price levels that have not been seen in more than half a decade.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was down 72 cents, settling at $45.59 per barrel – its lowest price in six years.