A year-end spike in road trip travel due to the holidays helped to push the national average more expensive on the week – up four cents to $2.58. Compared to last month, the national average is the same price, but 31 cents more expensive than the end of 2018.
“The majority of states saw gas prices increase in the last week – some by as much as a nickel to a dime, but any spikes in gas prices that motorists are seeing will be short-lived,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “AAA expects gas prices to decrease following the holidays.”
In 2019, the national gas price average was $2.61, which is ten cents cheaper than the 2018 average of $2.71.
- The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Michigan (+12 cents), Ohio (+9 cents), Indiana (+8 cents), Illinois (+7 cents), Delaware (+7 cents), Texas (+6 cents), West Virginia (+5 cents), Louisiana (+5 cents), North Carolina (+5 cents) and Alabama (+5 cents).
- The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($2.21), Mississippi ($2.25), Oklahoma ($2.26), Texas ($2.28), Arkansas ($2.28), Louisiana ($2.28), Kansas ($2.28), Alabama ($2.31), South Carolina ($2.32) and Tennessee ($2.32).
Great Lakes and Central States
Missouri ($2.21) carries the cheapest gas price average in the Great Lakes and Central region and the country. On the flip side, Illinois ($2.65) touts the most expensive average for the region. On the week, the majority of Great Lakes and Central states have more expensive averages, with Michigan (+12 cents), Ohio (+9 cents), Indiana (+8 cents) and Illinois (+7 cents) seeing the largest jumps, which land these states on the 10 top list of biggest weekly changes in the country.
Despite a nearly 400,000 bbl build in gasoline stocks, gasoline prices in the region are up due to year-end holiday travel. Data from the Energy Information Admiration (EIA) lists total stocks at 52 million bbl, which is about 1 million more than this time last year. Stocks are expected to continue to build and drive gas prices cheaper in the new year.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Gas prices are as much as six cents more expensive for motorists across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states compared to last Monday, except in Vermont ($2.63) and Massachusetts ($2.56) where prices in both states are stable on the week.
Pennsylvania ($2.79) ranks among the top 10 most expensive state averages in the country. In the region, motorists can find gas as cheap as $2.35 in Virginia and $2.40 in Delaware.
Regional gasoline stocks drew by 600,000 bbl, dropping total stock levels to 62.3 million bbl, per EIA data for week ending Dec. 20. In the week ahead, gas prices are likely to see continued, though minimal, increases.
South and Southeast
Motorists in the South and Southeast are paying as much as six cents more on the week to fill-up. Texas (+6 cents) and Louisiana (+5 cents) saw the largest increases, while a majority of states in the region are seeing three- to four-cent increases. Gas prices in the region range from $2.25 in Mississippi to $2.45 in Florida.
Gasoline stocks built by a substantial 2.2 million bbl, pushing total stocks to 85.6 million bbl. The large increase in stocks helped to keep this week’s price pump jumps to a minimum. Gas prices could increase in the coming week, but with EIA measuring regional refinery rates at 96%, increases are likely to be small and not linger.
Pump prices in the region continued to decline last week. On the week, Alaska (-4 cents) saw the largest decreases in the region. Hawaii ($3.65) and California ($3.56) remain the most expensive markets in the country. Washington ($3.16), Nevada ($3.04), Oregon ($3.03), Alaska ($2.99) and Arizona ($2.83) follow.
Increased gasoline stocks continue to help put downward pressure on pump prices, even as demand remains robust. According to EIA’s report for the week ending on December 20, total gas stocks in the region fell slightly from 31.63 million bbl to 31.58 million bbl. The current supply level is 4.52 million bbl higher than last year’s level at this time, which will likely continue to help prices in the region decline throughout the week.
The Rockies region also saw all state averages decrease on the week: Idaho (-4 cents), Utah (-4 cents), Colorado (-2 cents), Montana (-1 cent) and Wyoming (-1 cent). In the region, state averages range from $2.60 – $2.71.
Gasoline stocks held relatively steady at 7.6 million bbl. Per EIA’s latest report, stocks are about 620,000 bbl higher than this time last year. At 95.7%, regional refinery utilization is the second highest in the country and will help to keep gas prices less expensive in the week ahead.
Oil Market Dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased by four cents to settle at $61.72. Crude prices rose last week after EIA’s petroleum status report revealed that total domestic crude stocks decreased by 5.5 million bbl to 441.4 million bbl last week. Total domestic stocks are now at the level they held last year at this time. If EIA’s report this week shows another reduction, crude prices could increase again. Higher crude prices will likely help to push pump prices higher moving into next year.
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.