November 30th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(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.
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.
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.
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.
November 23rd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
(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.
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.
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.
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.
November 17th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
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.”
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.
AAA: More Than 46 Million Americans to Celebrate Thanksgiving with a Holiday Getaway, Most Since 2007
November 20th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
ORLANDO, Fla., (November 20, 2014) – AAA Travel projects 46.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 4.2 percent increase over 2013. Almost 90 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will celebrate the holiday with a road trip and likely will enjoy the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 26 through Sunday, November 30.
Highlights from 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast:
- Thanksgiving holiday travel volume is expected to reach the highest level since 2007, with 46.3 million Americans taking a trip.
- The 2014 forecast is 4.2 percent higher than the 44.4 million Americans who traveled last year and the greatest growth rate for any holiday since Independence Day 2012.
- Road trippers likely will pay the lowest Thanksgiving price for fuel in five years. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.85 per gallon, which is 43 cents lower than the average price for Thanksgiving a year ago ($3.28 per gallon).
- More than 89 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile, a 4.3 percent increase from 39.6 million last year.
- Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies.
- Travelers will encounter moderately higher prices with airfares one percent higher, mid-range hotels up eight percent and car rentals costing 10 percent more.
- The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.
“This year, more Americans will give thanks for the opportunity to travel to friends and family than any year since 2007,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. “Americans are more optimistic about the future as improvements in several key economic factors, including employment, GDP and disposable income, are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel.”
“Holiday joy has come early this year with Americans likely to pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2009. Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving,” continued Doney.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
The national price of gasoline has fallen below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers likely will pay the cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. More than 89 percent (41.3 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3 percent increase from 2013.
Travel expenses rise modestly
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase eight percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $142 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $114 per night.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $55, 10 percent higher than last year. Airfares will only increase one percent, with an average discounted round-trip rate of $189 across 40 top domestic routes.
Most of travelers’ budgets go toward transportation, food and shopping
Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travels. Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 31 percent of their budgets to fuel transportation. Food and beverage and shopping will account for 22 percent and 20 percent of holiday travel budgets, respectively.
Travelers’ spending plans mirror their intended activities this Thanksgiving, with 70 percent of travelers reporting they will enjoy dining during their vacation and 59 percent will go shopping. Eighty-nine percent of travelers plan to spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday.
AAA offers travel planning resources
AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. 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 collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.
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 the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast can be found here.
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. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.
February 28th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(Washington, February 28, 2014)
Gas Prices in February Post Largest Increase since Summer Driving Season
- Gas prices ended February with the largest increase since July with the national average rising about 17 cents per gallon (five percent) over the course of the month. Today’s national average price of gas is $3.45 per gallon.
- “Strong winter storms and weak demand have helped to keep gas prices less expensive this winter, but many drivers recently have noticed that it is starting to cost more to full up,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesman. “We are entering the worst time of year for visiting the gas station as prices rise primarily due to seasonal refinery maintenance.”
- The national average has increased for 21 days in a row, which is the longest consecutive streak since last February. Gas prices typically rise this time of year because many refineries cut production to conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline supplies and cause market uncertainty. This maintenance generally takes place between strong demand periods for heating oil in the winter and gasoline in the summer.
- Today’s national average is 33 cents per gallon less expensive than a year ago, which reflects the fact that prices peaked early in 2013 due to heavy refinery maintenance in January and February. Gas prices last year reached $3.79 per gallon on February 27, which was the earliest peak price on record. This year severe winter storms and a later refinery maintenance schedule likely will result in peak prices in March or April.
- Gas prices averaged $3.34 per gallon in February, which was the cheapest monthly national average since 2011. By comparison, prices nationally averaged $3.65 in Feb. 2013, $3.55 in Feb. 2012 and $3.17 in Feb. 2011.
- The price of domestic West Texas Intermediate crude oil has increased about $5.00 per barrel this month. Crude oil represents about two-thirds of the cost of gasoline, and producers generally pass along increased oil costs to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.
Gas Prices Likely to Peak at $3.55-$3.75 per Gallon in March or April
- AAA forecasts the national average price of gas will continue to rise before reaching a peak between $3.55-$3.75 per gallon in March or early April. Despite these potentially significant increases, AAA expects prices to remain less expensive than last year’s peak of $3.79 per gallon.
- “Buying gas in the spring can be a frustrating challenge because prices seem to be higher every time you get in the car,” continued Ash. “Yet even as prices inevitably rise, there is a good chance that most people should pay less than recent years to buy gas.”
- A relatively trouble-free refinery maintenance season and continued strong winter storms could result in prices remaining on the lower end of AAA’s prediction, while unexpected refinery problems, strong demand and higher oil costs could result in more expensive gas prices.
- AAA expects gas prices this year to be less expensive than in 2013 due to the fact that many refineries have increased capacity to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil production. The most recent data from the Energy Information Administration shows U.S. gasoline supplies at 230.6 million barrels, which is above the five-year average for this time of year.
- Gas prices in March may also rise because of the switchover to summer-blend gasoline. While this process can take place at different times of year depending on local regulations, the majority of refineries and pipelines must switchover by April 1. Summer-blend gasoline is less likely to evaporate and cause warm-weather air pollution such as smog, but it can increase costs by 5-15 cents per gallon.
- Gas prices on average decreased 15 cents per gallon in March 2013, but this was unusual and due to an early peak in prices. Gas prices in March have increased four out of the previous five years at an average of 11 cents per gallon.
- In 2012 the national average increased 56 cents per gallon over a 70 day period before peaking at $3.94 per gallon on April 5. In 2011 national average increased 89 cents per gallon during a 94 day period before peaking at $3.98 per gallon on May 5.
Drivers in 49 States are Paying Less Expensive Gas Prices than a Year Ago
- Drivers in every state but Wyoming are paying less than a year ago for gasoline. The five states with the highest average prices today include: Hawaii ($4.08), California ($3.84), Alaska ($3.77), Connecticut ($3.75) and New York ($3.74). The five states with the lowest average prices include: South Carolina ($3.17), Montana ($3.18), Alabama ($3.21), Mississippi ($3.22) and Tennessee ($3.22).
- The highest state average in the continental U.S. a year ago was California at $4.24 per gallon, while the cheapest was Wyoming at $3.29 per gallon.
- Every state in the country is more expensive than a month ago due to recent refinery maintenance and increased crude oil costs. The largest increases include: Michigan (39 cents), Indiana (34 cents), Ohio (34 cents), Colorado (33 cents) and South Dakota (27 cents).
- Less than one percent of all U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon today, which compares to more than one in four stations selling below that price in November.
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 24th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, February 24, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.42 per gallon. This price is six cents more expensive than one week ago and 13 cents more than one month ago; however national prices remain 36 cents per gallon less than the same date last year. Despite an average that has moved higher for 17 straight days – the longest streak since May of last year – and the largest one-month increase registered since August, the national average still reflects a substantial year-over-year discount and today’s price is the lowest for this date since 2011.
National pump prices have started to exhibit the seasonal increase motorists are familiar with to begin the calendar year. While geopolitical tensions or domestic refinery issues exacerbated this run up each of the last three years, the absence of such catalysts has resulted in a less dramatic increase thus far in 2014. Cold weather and limited demand across the country has helped to keep a lid on prices for motorists, even with crude oil prices near a multi-month high. In 2011 pump prices surged 29 cents per gallon through the end of February. In 2012 the national average spiked 45 cents higher through the first two months of the year. In 2013 prices were up 49 cents during the same span. With four days left in February, the national average has increased just nine cents to begin 2014.
The rising national average is mirrored at the state level, where pump prices are universally moving higher. Only drivers in Washington, D.C. are paying less to fill their cars than a week, two-weeks or month ago. In a number of interior states, the increase has been dramatic.
Motorists in 14 states have seen prices jump by at least 15 cents per gallon over the past 14 days. Coloradans are experiencing the most severe sticker shock as prices today are more than a quarter higher than two weeks ago, due to many of the same factors at the regional level that have pressured prices higher across the country: refinery maintenance and the approaching switch to summer-blend fuel. On January 1 pump prices in Colorado were 14 cents per gallon below the national average and today they are five cents higher. However, even given this recent surge, prices in Colorado still average 12 cents less than a year ago. The state’s average has historically trended slightly below the national price at the pump, although in recent years motorists have seen this gap widen early in the year before returning in line with the national average. In 2012 Colorado prices averaged 38 cents less than the national price during the first quarter (Q1) before recording a nine-cent premium in Q2. In 2013 the state average was 26 cents lower in Q1 than the national average, compared to eight cents higher in Q2.
The only state where prices today are higher than this date last year is Wyoming (two cents higher) and drivers in 16 states are paying at least 40 cents less per gallon.
From October 21 through February 7 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices spent just one day above $100 per barrel and traded as low as $91.80 on January 13. At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX WTI settled up 62 cents at $102.82 per barrel, which begins the third consecutive week above the $100 threshold. As noted above, cold weather and limited demand have kept a lid on gasoline prices; however as the weather warms and refineries begin the switchover to produce more expensive summer-blend gasoline, pump prices are likely to continue higher, especially if crude oil prices remain elevated.
February 18th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
( Washington, February 18, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.37 per gallon. While this price is six cents more expensive than one week ago and eight cents more than one month ago, national prices still average 36 cents less than the same date last year. Despite prices that have ticked higher on 11 straight days – the longest such streak since December 20 through January 3 – the year-over-year discount is the largest since October 18.
While the average price of gasoline has jumped nearly a dime during this recent run, it is just four cents above where it started the year. This is a departure from the last several years when surging prices to begin the year have frustrated motorists. In 2011 escalating violence in Egypt and then Libya spurred pump prices 29 cents higher by the end of February. In 2012 growing tensions with Iran propelled the national average 45 cents higher through the first two months of the year. In 2013 domestic production issues led to a 49-cent spike during the same span.
Pump prices have historically trended higher in springtime due to seasonal factors including rising demand, refinery maintenance and the change-over to more expensive summer-blend gasoline. This seasonal increase was amplified in both 2011 and 2012 by the aforementioned international unrest and subsequent global oil production concerns that sent crude oil prices higher. In 2013 the spring increase was even more pronounced but, instead of international catalysts, was attributed to domestic issues at regional refineries, which raised domestic gasoline production worries and sent retail prices sharply higher.
AAA expects national gas prices to continue to rise this spring, however, with more than half of February already in the books and barring a similar unexpected market moving event (or series of events), it is likely that sticker-shock in 2014 will be less severe for motorists than in recent years.
The rising national average is a product of prices that are universally higher at the state level. Only drivers in Washington, D.C. are currently paying less to fill their cars than two weeks ago. Motorists in 15 states have seen prices jump by at least 10 cents over the past 14 days, and, as has often been the case over the last several years, a handful of interior states – particularly in the Midwest – headline the list of the most dramatic price changes. While drivers in center of the country have seen the most increases, those in Hawaii, Alaska, California and a number of Northeast states continue to ultimately face the highest pump prices.
Crude oil prices had been relatively stable to begin the year; however West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled above $100 per barrel for the first time since October last Monday. This trend continued today as WTI settled up $2.13 at $102.43 per barrel, which is the highest close since October 10. The AAA national average price for regular unleaded gasoline on October 10 was $3.81 per gallon. In October both oil and gasoline prices were in the process of moving lower on weak demand and comfortable regional gasoline supplies.
February 10th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(February 10, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.29 per gallon. This is two cents more expensive than one week ago but two cents less than one month ago and 29 cents less than the same date last year. Yesterday, for the first time in more than a month, the national average reflected a week-over-week increase. While pump prices have ticked higher each of the last three days, the year-over-year discount is just shy of the 30-cent margin registered on Saturday, which was the largest gap since October 24.
In a departure from recent years, national gas prices have been largely flat to begin 2014. This can be attributed in part to cold temperatures keeping drivers off of roads but also to the absence of the looming production concerns overseas or regional refinery issues that have propelled retail gasoline prices higher out of the gate the last several years. In 2011 escalating violence in Egypt and then Libya spurred pump prices higher, in 2012 the catalyst was growing tensions with Iran. In both of these instances global production concerns linked to geopolitical issues sent crude oil prices and ultimately gas prices higher. In 2013 the early-year gas price increase was not a product of surging crude prices globally but of production issues domestically. Regional refinery issues leading up to the seasonal switchover to summer-blend gasoline production raised domestic supply concerns and sent retail prices sharply higher.
In each of the these recent years the seasonal increase in gas prices, triggered by increasing demand, seasonal maintenance and the approaching switchover to summer-blend gasoline, was exacerbated by unexpected supply concerns or production issues. AAA does expect gas prices to rise this spring due to seasonal factors, however without the impact of geopolitical issues overseas or significant regional refinery issues here at home, AAA expects the national average to rise to $3.55-3.75 before heading lower into the summer. There is always the potential that this increase could be more dramatic if unexpected issues rear their heads; however the peak price during the first half of 2014 is likely to be lower than 2011 ($3.98), 2012 ($3.94) and 2103 ($3.79).
Prices at the state level, like the national average, have been relatively flat to begin the year, and many states are reflecting lofty year-over-year discounts for motorists. Drivers in 18 states are paying at least 30 cents less per gallon at the pump than the same date last year and Californians are paying an average of 41 cents less. Only prices in Wyoming register a yearly increase (seven cents). While the yearly savings is welcome, prices have recently turned higher in some states as wholesale gasoline prices have rallied. Prices in three states (Indiana, Michigan and Ohio) have seen pump prices jump more than a dime over the past two weeks, perhaps signaling a start to the anticipated seasonal increase.
Crude oil prices had been relatively stable to begin the year; however prices moved higher to end last week, settling on Friday just short of the $100 per barrel threshold. This trend continued today and, despite increasing just 18 cents on the day, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled at $100.06 per barrel. This marks the first time since October 18 that WTI has settled above the $100 threshold.
February 6th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 6, 2014) – Many drivers may pay rising gas prices this spring as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance, but the peak may be less expensive than last year. The national average price of gas could reach an estimated $3.55-$3.75 per gallon, according to AAA.
“Winter weather, weak demand and sufficient supplies have kept gas prices relatively low recently, but this trend may not last much longer,” said Bob Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA. “Driving to the gas station could be a lot more frustrating as prices increase this spring.”
Prices generally rise in the spring because many refineries cut production to conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline supplies and cause market uncertainty. This maintenance generally takes place between strong demand periods for heating oil in the winter and gasoline in the summer, and before the regulated switchover to summer-blend gasoline. This switchover process itself can further limit supplies and increase pump prices. Last year the national average increased 49 cents per gallon over 41 days before peaking at $3.79 per gallon on Feb. 27. Gas prices similarly increased 56 cents per gallon in spring 2012 and 86 cents per gallon in 2011.
“There is a good chance that average gasoline prices this year will cost less than in 2013, but it is not going to be cheap,” continued Darbelnet. “The expected springtime rise in gas prices likely will be temporary, but that will not make it any easier to pay $60 or more to fill up your car.”
After a springtime peak, gas prices generally fall as the refinery maintenance period ends and production returns to normal rates, though there could be temporary price increases because of unexpected problems. By late June the national average could drop to $3.30-$3.40 per gallon, which likely would be the lowest price until late autumn. Last year the national average reached a summer low of $3.47 per gallon on July 7. Gas prices declined 61 cents from springtime peaks in summer 2012 and 44 cents in 2011.
Strong demand and the risk of hurricanes can lead to higher gas prices during the second half of the summer. “Few other products can rise in price so suddenly,” continued Darbelnet. “Just imagine if a cup of coffee or a hamburger changed its price daily like gasoline. The average American driver is forced to demonstrate a good deal of tolerance whenever they buy gas.”
By October, gas prices should start a long decline towards the end of the year due to weakening demand and the switchover to less expensive winter-blend gasoline. The national average last year reached a low of $3.18 per gallon on Nov. 12 and similarly averaged $3.22 per gallon in December 2012 and $3.21 per gallon in 2011.
Prices along the Gulf Coast and in the central part of the country likely will be the least expensive due to lower taxes and access to abundant supplies of cheaper North American crude oil. Gas prices in some parts of the region may drop below $3.00 per gallon before the year is over.
The West Coast and the Northeast likely will have the most expensive gas prices due to higher taxes and because local refineries must rely on more costly, imported crude oil and gasoline due to infrastructure and pipeline limitations.
“Unexpected developments and events overseas could change AAA’s price outlook considerably, but there is little doubt that gas will cost more than most of us would like in 2014,” continued Darbelnet. “The best advice for dealing with another tough year is to follow simple gas savings tips such as shopping around, maintaining your car and driving the speed limit.”
Gas prices averaged $3.49 per gallon in 2013 and could average at least five cents per gallon less in 2014. Many refineries have increased capacity to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil production, which can limit peak prices and volatility. Gas prices in 2012 were the most expensive on record at $3.60 per gallon, followed by 2011 with an annual average of $3.51 per gallon.
AAA updates fuel price averages daily at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com. 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.
February 3rd, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(February 3, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.28 per gallon. This is fractions of a penny less expensive than one week ago, four cents less than one month ago and 24 cents less than the same date last year. The national average has now posted 28 consecutive weekly declines and today’s year-over-year discount is the largest since November 15. After rising to a recent high of $3.33 on January 3 the national average has now declined for 24 of 31 days.
Recent history has seen pump prices charge higher to start the year, however cold temperatures across much of the country have led to weak demand and kept prices flat to begin 2014. The national average drifted four cents lower last month, compared to a 17-cent increase in January 2012 and 13-cent increase in 2013. This marked the first time prices had declined during the month since 2008.
Despite the quiet start to the year, AAA expects the national average to move higher in the coming weeks and months due to the same seasonal factors that have historically led to rising prices during the first quarter of the year. This includes increased demand; scheduled refinery maintenance, which often begins in February between strong demand periods for winter heating oil and summer gasoline; and the mandated switchover to summer-blend gasoline production in advance of the May 1 deadline. These final two processes can lead to unexpected issues, which can result in even sharper temporary price increases for areas supplied by affected facilities.
In 2013 the national average jumped 49 cents from January 1 and peaked at $3.79 on February 27. In 2012 pump prices surged 66 cents from the same date to a peak of $3.94 on April 5. In 2011 prices soared 91 cents to a peak of $3.98 on May 5.
Prices at the state level have generally followed the national average slightly lower to begin the year. Prices in nine states, led by Hawaii +6 cents, currently reflect month-over-month increases; however motorists in 41 states and Washington, D.C. are seeing lower prices, including six states where prices have dropped by at least a dime: Delaware -16 cents, Maryland -13 cents, New Jersey -12 cents, Vermont -11 cents, Massachusetts -10 cents and New Hampshire -10 cents. As temperatures rise and refinery maintenance gets underway, it is likely motorists in these states, like most across the country, will pay more to fill their cars.
Crude oil prices, like retail gasoline prices, have been relatively flat to begin the year. This trend continued today as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled $1.06 lower at $96.43 per barrel at the close formal trading on the NYMEX. After climbing to a new 2013 high of $98.23 last Thursday, WTI prices have fallen back to within $1 of where they began the year.