Archive for August, 2020

Demand and Pump Prices Jump Across the Country

August 31st, 2020 by EEdmonds

The national gas price average spiked by a nickel on the week to $2.23, but is expected to push cheaper in the week ahead. Pump prices jumped as a result of Hurricane Laura and an increase in demand for one of the highest measurements of the year.

“It’s typical to see increased demand and more expensive gas prices ahead of a storm, especially one that threatens rigs and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico region,” said Jeanette Casselano. “The latest industry reports indicate that facilities in Texas have already begun the restarting process, which means there is no major threat to gasoline stocks and gas prices should push cheaper.”

However, operations in the Lake Charles, La., region are still down and could be for some time. This includes the Lake Charles CITGO (440,000 b/d) and Phillip66 (239,400 b/d) facilities. In the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reports that 70% of current oil production is still shuttered, which is still significant but better when compared to 84% reported when the storm hit.

The second factor pushing prices more expensive in the last week was the Energy Information Administration (EIA) report that gas demand increased from 8.63 million b/d to 9.16 million b/d. While higher than we’ve seen throughout the summer, this estimated rate is 739,000 b/d lower than the rate last year at this time. Moreover, total domestic gasoline supplies decreased by 4.6 million bbl last week to 239.2 million bbl, but the current level is 7.2 million bbl higher than the level at this time last year.

Today’s national average is a nickel more than last month, but 35 cents cheaper than a year ago. On the week, all but five states saw state gas price averages increase. Of those that saw jumps, nearly 20 state averages are 5 to 15 cents more expensive.

Quick Stats

  •  The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases: West Virginia (+14 cents), Ohio (+13 cents), Indiana (+10 cents), North Carolina (+9 cents), Pennsylvania (+9 cents), Delaware (+9 cents), Virginia (+9 cents), Minnesota (+8 cents), South Carolina (+8 cents) and Tennessee (+8 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($1.88), Louisiana ($1.89), Texas ($1.90), Arkansas ($1.92), Oklahoma ($1.92), Alabama ($1.93), Missouri ($1.94), Tennessee ($1.99), South Carolina ($2.00) and Kansas ($2.00).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI decreased by seven cents to settle at $42.97 per barrel. Although crude prices ended the day lower, crude prices increased on the week as Tropical Depression Laura reduced crude production in the Gulf of Mexico. For this week, crude prices may rise again due to a weak U.S. dollar and if prolonged closure of rigs and production platforms tighten domestic crude inventories amid rising demand. However, EIA’s latest weekly report revealed that total domestic crude inventories, currently sitting at 507.8 million bbl, are 80 million bbl higher than where they were during this time in August 2019. The higher level could play a role in stabilizing crude prices.

As of Monday morning, the BSEE Hurricane Response Team reports:

  • Personnel are still evacuated from a total of 137 production platforms, 21.31 percent of the 643 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Personnel are still evacuated from 2 rigs (non-dynamically positioned), equivalent to 16.67 percent of the 12 rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf.
  • From operator reports, BSEE estimates that approximately 70% percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico remains shuttered.

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.

At $2.18, the national gas price average increased by one cent on the week. That is the same price as a month ago and 41 cents cheaper than a year ago.

The minimal change reflects the slow movement at pumps across the country on the week. The vast majority of states (30) saw pump prices fluctuate by a penny, if at all. A few states in the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West saw more significant jumps, including North Carolina (+7 cents), Kentucky (+6 cents), Virginia (+5 cents) and West Virginia (+5 cents), while Indiana (-5 cents) holds the spot for the largest weekly decrease. The increase in these states could be a result of increased demand, but nationally demand saw a one week decline.

“Gasoline stocks hit their lowest level since the pandemic began and demand dipped on the week, down to 8.6 million b/d,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “These decreases typically lead to cheaper pump prices, but this summer we’ve seen atypical gas price trends.”

The Energy Information Administration recorded gasoline stocks at their largest one-week draw since May. Total stocks fell by 4 million bbl down to 243.7 million bbl. Year-over-year, stocks are at a 10 million surplus while demand sits 1.3 million b/d less. U.S refinery utilization rates continue to hover at 80%.

Hurricane Watch

This week the market is watching Tropical Storms Marco and Laura. Marco, whose force is decreasing and is expected to be a tropical depression late on Tuesday, is less of a concern. However, Laura is forecasted to move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and become a hurricane by early Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, approximately 58 percent, or 1.065 million b/d, of crude production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shuttered ahead of the storms and 114 (18%) platforms evacuated.

While gasoline stocks remain at a healthy level, if platforms and rigs are offline for an extended amount of time, supply could tighten and gas prices could be impacted. AAA will continue to monitor activity and provide related gas price updates.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes: North Carolina (+7 cents), Kentucky (+6 cents), Virginia (+5 cents), West Virginia (+5 cents), Indiana (-5 cents), Illinois (+3 cents), Michigan (+3 cents), Wisconsin (-3 cents), South Dakota (+2 cents) and Iowa (+2 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($1.83), Louisiana ($1.86), Arkansas ($1.87), Alabama ($1.88), Texas ($1.88), Oklahoma ($1.88), Missouri ($1.90), Tennessee ($1.91), South Carolina ($1.92) and Kansas ($1.97).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI decreased by 48 cents to settle at $42.34 per barrel. Crude prices were supported by growth in the strength of the U.S. dollar. Additionally, domestic crude prices decreased despite EIA’s weekly report revealing that total domestic inventories decreased by 1.6 million bbl last week, lowering total stocks to 512.5 million bbl. For this week, crude prices could increase, depending on the impact of Tropical Storms Laura and Marcos. If crude production continues to decrease and stays offline for an extended period, crude prices could increase as supply tightens.

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.

Has the National Average Peaked for the Year?

August 17th, 2020 by EEdmonds

The national gas price average has pushed only as expensive as $2.20 since the beginning of the pandemic, and that happened just one month ago. In the last four weeks, motorists have seen the national average slowly decrease, down to today’s average of $2.17 despite gasoline demand last week reaching the highest measurement (up to 8.88 million b/d) since Mid-March, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly report.

On the week, nearly 40 states saw minimal movement at the pump with either a one-cent or no change in their averages. State gas price averages decreased by as much as four cents: Michigan (-4 cents) and Florida (-3 cents) saw the largest drops. Meanwhile, a dozen states saw an increase at the pump. These were mostly minimal jumps except for Indiana (+5 cents) and Wisconsin (+4 cents).

“Gas prices are stalling, if not decreasing, at the vast majority of pumps,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “We’ve likely seen gasoline prices peak for 2020, barring any major hurricane(s).”

Across the country, 72% of all stations are selling gas for less than $2.25 and 41% have gas under $2/gallon.  EIA measures gasoline stocks at 247 million bbl – a 12 million year-over-year surplus – for the week ending August 7. This extremely healthy supply amid lower seasonal demand is paving the way for one of the lowest annual gas price averages this decade.

Today’s national average is three cents cheaper than last month and 45 cents less than a year ago.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes: Indiana (+5 cents), Wisconsin (+4 cents), Michigan (-4 cents), Texas (+3 cents), Florida (-3 cents), North Carolina (+2 cents), South Carolina (+2 cents), Hawaii (-2 cents), Illinois (-2 cents) and Ohio (-1 cent).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($1.82), Louisiana ($1.84), Arkansas ($1.85), Alabama ($1.86), Texas ($1.87), Oklahoma ($1.87), Missouri ($1.88), Tennessee ($1.90), South Carolina ($1.90) and Kansas ($1.95).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI decreased by 23 cents to settle at $42.01 per barrel. Crude prices ended the week lower after the International Energy Agency reduced its outlook for 2020 global oil demand to 91.9 million b/d from 92.1 million b/d. Reduced demand for gasoline and other transportation fuels, including jet fuel, have pushed global crude demand down. As new coronavirus infections increase worldwide, global demand will likely continue to decline and contribute to further reductions in crude prices this week.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Gas Pump Prices Pushing Cheaper, Again

August 10th, 2020 by EEdmonds

On the week, the majority of states saw gas prices decrease minimally – by one to two cents or saw no change at the pump. Though low, the volatility was enough to drive the national average down a penny from last Monday to $2.17. Today’s average is two cents less than last month and 49 cents cheaper than a year ago.

“As we move into the second week of the August, it is pricing out to be the second cheapest start to the month in more than a decade,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Gas prices have high potential to push cheaper, especially with many school districts planning for virtual learning. This could drive demand down in the weeks ahead as school starts at-home.”

In the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly report, gas demand fell from 8.8 million b/d to 8.6 million b/d while stocks held steady at 247 million bbl.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes: Utah (+9 cents), Michigan (+6 cents), Kentucky (-4 cents), Ohio (+3 cents), Florida (-3 cents), Tennessee (-3 cents), West Virginia (-3 cents), Pennsylvania (+2 cents), Texas (-2 cents) and Oklahoma (-2 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($1.81), Texas ($1.84), Louisiana ($1.84), Oklahoma ($1.86), Arkansas ($1.86), Alabama ($1.87), Missouri ($1.87), South Carolina ($1.88), Tennessee ($1.89) and North Carolina ($1.94).

 2020 Hurricane Season

While Hurricane Isaias did not disrupt gas prices, the 2020 hurricane season is far from over. Last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released the association’s annual August update, which revised the May forecast from 13 to 19 storms to 19-25 through the end of November. This year’s season could be one of the busiest as it has already produced a record-setting nine named storms.

Major storms and hurricanes that take crude and gasoline infrastructure and refineries offline have the largest impact on gas prices.

One positive factor for this year, U.S. gasoline supply is plentiful sitting at a 17 million bbl year-over-year surplus. If a major storm or hurricane does hit the U.S., it will be a matter of short-term shortages and how quickly gasoline stocks can get to areas of need.

Oil Market Dynamics

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI decreased by 71 cents to settle at $41.22 per barrel. Domestic crude prices decreased last week due to a weak U.S. dollar and after EIA’s weekly report revealed that total domestic inventories decreased by 7.4 million bbl, bringing total domestic stocks to 518.6 million bbl. The decrease in total supply, amid low gasoline demand, could mean that the domestic crude market is rebalancing. Crude prices have the potential to stabilize this week if EIA’s report shows continued growth in demand alongside a reduction in supply.

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.

New automotive engineering research finds 73% of performance issues were related to lane centering

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 6, 2020) – AAA automotive researchers found that over the course of 4,000 miles of real-world driving, vehicles equipped with active driving assistance systems experienced some type of issue every 8 miles, on average. Researchers noted instances of trouble with the systems keeping the vehicles tested in their lane and coming too close to other vehicles or guardrails. AAA also found that active driving assistance systems, those that combine vehicle acceleration with braking and steering, often disengage with little notice – almost instantly handing control back to the driver. A dangerous scenario if a driver has become disengaged from the driving task or has become too dependent on the system. AAA recommends manufacturers increase the scope of testing for active driving assistance systems and limit their rollout until functionality is improved to provide a more consistent and safer driver experience.

Additional Resources

Active driving assistance, classified as Level 2 driving automation on a scale of six (0-5) created by the SAE International, are advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that provide the highest level of automated vehicle technology available to the public today. This means for a majority of drivers, their first or only interaction with vehicle automation is through these types of systems, which according to AAA, are far from 100% reliable.

“AAA has repeatedly found that active driving assistance systems do not perform consistently, especially in real-word scenarios,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “Manufacturers need to work toward more dependable technology, including improving lane keeping assistance and providing more adequate alerts.”

AAA tested the functionality of active driving assistance systems in real-world conditions and in a closed-course setting to determine how well they responded to common driving scenarios. On public roadways, nearly three-quarters (73%) of errors involved instances of lane departure or erratic lane position. While AAA’s closed-course testing found that the systems performed mostly as expected, they were particularly challenged when approaching a simulated disabled vehicle. When encountering this test scenario, in aggregate, a collision occurred 66% of the time and the average impact speed was 25 mph.

“Active driving assistance systems are designed to assist the driver and help make the roads safer, but the fact is, these systems are in the early stages of their development,” added Brannon. “With the number of issues we experienced in testing, it is unclear how these systems enhance the driving experience in their current form. In the long run, a bad experience with current technology may set back public acceptance of more fully automated vehicles in the future.”

AAA’s 2020 automated vehicle survey found that only one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. To increase consumer confidence in future automated vehicles, it is important that car manufacturers perfect functionality as much as possible – like active driving assistance systems available now – before deployment in a larger fleet of vehicles. AAA has met with industry leaders to provide insight from the testing experience and recommendations for improvement. The insights are also shared with AAA members and the public to inform their driving experiences and vehicle purchase decisions.

Methodology

AAA conducted closed-course testing and naturalistic driving in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center and AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah’s GoMentum Proving Grounds. Using a defined set of criteria, AAA selected the following vehicles for testing:  2019 BMW X7 with “Active Driving Assistant Professional”, 2019 Cadillac CT6 with “Super Cruise™”, 2019 Ford Edge with “Ford Co-Pilot360™”, 2020 Kia Telluride with “Highway Driving Assist” and 2020 Subaru Outback with “EyeSight®” and were sourced from the manufacturer or directly from dealer inventory. The 2019 Cadillac CT6 and the 2019 Ford Edge were evaluated only within naturalistic environments. For specific methodology regarding testing equipment, closed-course test scenarios and naturalistic routes, please refer to the full report here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

On the week, the national gas price average held steady at $2.18 as the majority of state averages saw minimal impact at the pump. With the exception of a few outliers –  Florida (+10 cents), Utah (+10 cents) and Idaho (+5 cents) – state averages either decreased by four cents or less or increased by no more than two pennies.

Gas prices are trending cheaper despite an increase in demand. Up 3% over last week, gasoline demand measured at 8.8 million b/d – the highest reading since the pandemic started. Though, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), year-over-year demand is down about 8%.

“This summer is no doubt the cheapest at the pump for motorists in more than a decade. The last two months have yielded a national average of $2.14,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “While we expect to see typical fluctuation, August gas prices are not expected to spike, especially amid increases in COVID-19 cases.”

Today’s national average, which is one cent more than last month and 53 cents cheaper than last year, has been largely unaffected by Tropical Storm Isaias. The storm, according to the National Hurricane Center, is likely to regain hurricane strength before reaching the coast between northeastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina later today. Given lower than normal U.S. gasoline demand and healthy stock levels, gas prices nationally are not likely to be impacted by Isaias.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes: Florida (+10 cents), Utah (+10 cents), Idaho (+5 cents), Washington, D.C. (-4 cents), Indiana (-4 cents), Michigan (-2 cents), Ohio (-2 cents), West Virginia (-2 cents), Oklahoma (-2 cents) and Colorado (-2 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($1.82), Louisiana ($1.85), Texas ($1.86), Arkansas ($1.87), Alabama ($1.88), Oklahoma ($1.88), Missouri ($1.89), South Carolina ($1.90), Tennessee ($1.92) and North Carolina ($1.96).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by 35 cents to settle at $40.27 per barrel. Domestic crude prices increased after EIA’s latest weekly report revealed that total domestic crude inventories decreased by 10.6 million bbl, bringing the current total to 526 million bbl. The price increase, amid increasing gasoline demand, up from 8.55 million b/d to 8.81 million b/d in the new EIA report, could mean that the domestic crude market is meeting demand and production is stabilizing as coronavirus infections continue to increase worldwide. If crude supplies continue to decline alongside rising demand, domestic crude prices could continue to increase this week.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

B-Roll

YouTube Videos

AAA Senior Driver Expos

NewsRoom Video Gallery

Media: Find and Download AAA Videos and B Roll.

images

[flickrpress type="rss" url="https://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=37347808@N05&lang=en-us&format=rss_200" view="squares" count="6" columns="2"]