Posts Tagged ‘AAA Spokesperson’

Gas Prices Jump for Most of Country

February 19th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

On the week, 28 states saw gas price averages increase by at least a nickel, pushing the national gas price average up six-cents to land at $2.33. That is the largest one-week increase seen at the national level this year. Today’s gas price average is nine-cents more expensive than last month, but 19-cents cheaper than a year ago.

“Motorists are seeing more expensive gas prices as a result of ongoing refinery problems coupled with crude oil prices hitting their highest level so far this year as global crude inventories tighten,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Inventories are likely to continue to tighten and keep gas prices higher through the end of the month.”

The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly report details demand dropping for a second week, to total at 8.6 million b/d. Frigid and severe winter weather has been a driving factor for declining demand and this week’s approaching storm from the Plains to the Northeast has the potential to drop demand further. Refinery problems and increasing exports have kept inventories at minimal builds. For the week ending Feb. 8, inventories increased only 408,000 bbl to total 258.3 million bbl.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.04), Mississippi ($2.04), Missouri ($2.07), Arkansas ($2.07), Louisiana ($2.07), South Carolina ($2.08), Texas ($2.09), Colorado ($2.09), Kansas ($2.11) and Virginia ($2.11).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Michigan (+16 cents), Oklahoma (+12 cents), Minnesota (+11 cents), Texas (+11 cents), Kansas (+10 cents), Arkansas (+10 cents), Delaware (+10 cents), Maryland (+9 cents), Iowa (+9 cents) and Kentucky (+9 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

Gas prices are 4 to 16 cents more expensive on the week across the Great Lakes and Central states mostly due to ongoing refinery maintenance and inventories tightening. Eleven states in the region have averages that are a nickel or more expensive since last week: Michigan (+16 cents), Minnesota (+11 cents), Kansas (+10 cents), Iowa (+9 cents), Kentucky (+9 cents), Nebraska (+8 cents), Missouri (+8 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents), Ohio (+6 cents), Indiana (+5 cents) and Illinois (+5 cents).

While gas prices are less expensive than a year ago, they are more expensive than last month for most Great Lakes and Central states. In fact, four states land on the top five chart for all states in the country with the largest month-over-month difference: Michigan (+35 cents), Ohio (+25 cents), Wisconsin (+22 cents) and Indiana (+20 cents).

Regional inventories drew down by 3.2 million bbl, according to EIA latest reports, to total at 58.6 million bbl. This is the second lowest inventory level of the year. Regional refinery utilization is also down nearly 9 percent. The large draw and drop in utilization are pushing gas prices higher.

South and Southeast

Three South and Southeast have seen gas prices increase by at least a dime on the week and also land on the top 10 list with this week’s largest increases in the country: Oklahoma (+12 cents), Texas (+11 cents) and Arkansas (+10 cents). Despite pump jumps for all states in the region, states in the South and Southeast tout the cheapest average in the country: Alabama ($2.04), Mississippi ($2.04), Arkansas ($2.07), Louisiana ($2.07), South Carolina ($2.08) and Texas ($2.08).

EIA reports that regional inventories built by a substantial 5.7 million bbl for the week ending Feb. 5, registering total inventories once again above the 90 million bbl mark. Year-over-year, inventories sit at a 7 million bbl surplus. The large inventory may help motorists only see modest pump price jumps through the end of the month as much of the region’s refineries enter maintenance season.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

With a penny decrease, Massachusetts ($2.38) was the only state in the region to see gas prices drop on the week while Vermont ($2.38) and Washington, D.C. ($2.52) averages held steady. For all other states, gas prices are as much as a dime more expensive on the week. Delaware (+10 cents) and Maryland (+9 cents) saw the largest jumps.

Inventories measure at 69.5 million bbl following a draw of 1.775 million bbl, according to the EIA. The latest regional refinery utilization dropped five percent down to 69.7 percent, the lowest of any region in the country. With reduced utilization, the region may see stocks tighten in coming weeks which may drive up gas prices.

Rockies

Utah (-5 cents), Wyoming (-2 cents), and Idaho (-1 cents) are among the fewer than 10 states where gas price averages decreased on the week. After weeks at nearly $2/gal, Colorado’s average jumped seven-cents to $2.09. Idaho has the most expensive average in the region at $2.29.

With a build of 151,000 bbl, inventory measures at 7.5 million bbl. This is the largest inventory level for the Rockies region in 52-weeks and should help to keep gas price fluctuation modest for the rest of the month.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying some of the highest pump prices in the nation, with most of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. At $3.27, California is the most expensive market. Hawaii ($3.26), Washington ($2.86), Nevada ($2.84), Alaska ($2.82) and Oregon ($2.74) follow. Arizona ($2.42) is the only state in the region that dropped from the 10 most expensive markets list this week. Prices in the region have mostly declined on the week, with Arizona (-2 cents) seeing the largest drop.

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks decreased for a second week. They fell by approximately 500,000 bbl to 32.1 million bbl. Stocks are approximately 2.3 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.18 to settle at $55.59 – the highest price point of the year. Crude prices continued their ascent last week, due to growing belief that global supply is tightening. OPEC’s 1.2 million b/d production cut agreement, which is in effect for the first six months of 2019, has helped to rebalance the market. Also, an increasing reduction in crude exports from Venezuela due to U.S.-imposed sanctions has contributed to market observers believing the market will grow tighter in the coming weeks.

These concerns will likely bolster crude prices even more this week, and market observers will look to this week’s EIA report to see if there are additional indicators of market tightening. As crude prices increase, American motorists can expect pump prices to follow suit, since approximately 50 percent of the cost consumers pay at the pump is due to the cost per barrel of crude oil.

Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic crude inventories grew by 3.6 million bbl to 450.8 million bbl last week. High crude production in the U.S., which held steady at a staggering 11.9 million b/d last week, contributed to the growth in crude stocks around the country and is expected to help meet global crude demand as supply challenges loom.

In related news, Baker Hughes Inc. reported that the U.S. added three oilrigs last week, bringing the total to 857. When compared to last year at this time, there are 59 more rigs this 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.

Three Restaurants Added as AAA Five Diamond Honorees

February 14th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Just 67 restaurants in North America meet AAA’s rigorous Five Diamond expectations

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (February 14, 2019) – Only 67 restaurants in North America currently have what it takes to hold AAA’s distinctive Five Diamond Rating, including three restaurants added this year – Atera, COAST and Oriole. The coveted 2019 Five Diamond Award restaurant list makes up just 0.2 percent of the nearly 32,000 AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Additional Resources

Among the exclusive number of high-end establishments that have attained the Five Diamond Rating, AAA’s inspectors note many are adopting a much more casual environment in response to evolving guest preferences for a more relaxed experience. High-end restaurants are adopting simple, streamlined décor and, thanks in part to the popularity of cooking shows and competitions, some continue to highlight lively open kitchen designs that allow guests to watch and even interact with culinary staff.

“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “To be considered leading edge, chefs must incorporate a laser-focused approach using innovative concepts and menus featuring the finest ingredients. Diners want to be wowed on multiple levels, so exceptional service is also important, but they’re not necessarily looking for all the formalities that were once synonymous with fine dining.”

Following a rigorous evaluation that includes anonymous dining by an experienced AAA inspector and review by a panel of experts, these restaurants earned Five Diamonds for the first time this past year.

  • Atera (New York, New York) – A treat for all the senses, the tasting menu slowly builds and excels with never-before-seen visual presentations and combinations. In a small dining room with a chef’s table open to the kitchen and a lone side dining table for a party of four, it does not get much more exclusive than this.
  • COAST (Watch Hill, Rhode Island) – Located within a stately seaside inn with dramatic views of the ocean, this restaurant prides itself on using local Rhode Island and Atlantic Coast farm-to-table ingredients. The menu changes daily to incorporate the freshest items from local farmers and fishmongers.
  • Oriole (Chicago, Illinois) – The classy dining room is made more interesting by the brightly illuminated display kitchen that allows diners to watch the artful assembly of each plate. A multi-course menu is designed to be a surprise for guests.

Atera and Oriole both debut as AAA Five Diamond restaurants, while COAST—Rhode Island’s first Five Diamond restaurant—was upgraded from Four Diamonds.

Those at the Four Diamond level, just 2.1 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants, are also an exclusive group. They offer a distinctive fine-dining experience, employing creative preparations that are skillfully served amid upscale ambience. This year, there are 656 Four Diamond restaurants located across North America, including 39 additions this year.

To see the complete lists of 2019 AAA Four and Five Diamond restaurants, visit AAA.com/DiamondAwards. To see which cities and states have the most award winners, see AAA Four and Five Diamond Restaurant Facts. The 2019 AAA Four and Five Diamond Award-winning hotels were announced in January.

About AAA Diamond Ratings  

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant inspections guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. AAA conducts these inspections as the trusted source of nearly 60 million members, guiding them to have memorable travel and dining experiences.

The AAA inspectors who assign these ratings have a wide range of hospitality experience – their resumes include stints as hotel managers and food and beverage experts – that gives them an authoritative perspective. Inspectors provide an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging trends, which includes the continuing evolution of technology to elevate the guest experience.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 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 is two cents more expensive, landing at $2.28. At the start of the workweek, nearly half of all state averages also saw jumps – some at or more than a dime increase.

Frigid temperatures across much of the country have contributed toward a half a million barrel per day drop in demand to measure at 9 million bbl – a level consistent with a year ago according to Energy Information Administration (EIA). At the same time, gasoline stocks saw a nominal 513,000 bbl increase for a total of 257.8 bbl. While demand is mostly flat year-over-year, total stocks sit at a 124 million bbl surplus.

“Since the beginning of the year, crude oil remains relatively cheap, moving between $51- $55/bbl,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “This, coupled with fluctuating gasoline stocks due to planned and unplanned maintenance at refineries as well as instability in demand, likely due to frigid temperatures, are all contributing toward movement at retail pumps across the country.”

Today’s national gas price average is four cents more expensive than a month ago and 30 cents less expensive than a year ago.

Quick Stats 

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Arkansas ($1.96), Mississippi ($1.96), Alabama ($1.97), Texas ($1.97), Missouri ($1.99), Louisiana ($1.99), Oklahoma ($1.99), South Carolina ($1.99), Kansas ($2.00) and Colorado ($2.01).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Michigan (+13 cents), Illinois (+9 cents), Missouri (+9 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents), New Mexico (+6 cents), Iowa (+6 cents), Ohio (+6 cents), Utah (-6 cents), Indiana (+5 cents) and Minnesota (+5 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

The majority of Great Lakes and Central states’ motorists are paying more to fill up at the pump on the week. Eight of the country’s top 10 states with the largest weekly increases are from this region with prices increasing a nickel or more since last Monday: Michigan (+13 cents), Illinois (+9 cents), Missouri (+9 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents), Iowa (+6 cents), Ohio (+6 cents), Indiana (+5 cents) and Minnesota (+5 cents). Nebraska and Kansas state averages also jumped by six cents.

Winter weather is one reason for the region’s fluctuating gas prices. Frigid weather has caused unplanned maintenance at a handful of refineries. This includes, according to the OPIS Refinery Maintenance Report: BP Whiting (Indiana); CITGO Lemont (Illinois); Phillips 66/Cenovus Wood River (Illinois) and Marathon Petroleum (Michigan). These disruptions negatively impacted utilization rate, down two percent, and limited stock growth.

On the week, stocks built by only 350,000 bbl on the week, per the latest EIA data published.  At 61.8 million bbl, regional gasoline stocks sit at their highest level in a year. The small jump in stocks, coupled with healthy stock levels, is helping most of the region see lower pump price increases – under double-digits. If stocks make strong gains in the week ahead, gas prices could see less fluctuation.

South and Southeast

Gas prices range between $2.24 (Florida) and $1.96 (Arkansas) in the South and Southeast region with averages as much as six cents more expensive and four cents cheaper on the week. New Mexico (+6 cents) and Oklahoma (+5 cents) saw the largest jumps, while Florida (-4 cents) is cheaper after a period of increases. Refinery maintenance and exports are impacting gas prices in the region.

According to EIA data, exports jumped by nearly 300,000 b/d to 895,000 b/d, contributing towards regional stocks dipping by 1.8 million for the week ending February 1. At the beginning of the year, stocks sat at 89.3 million bbl. With the latest draw, the region’s total stocks sit at 84.8 million bbl. This is the third straight week of stock declines as utilization holds relatively stable at 90 percent.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Only three Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states have more expensive gas price averages on the week: West Virginia (+3 cents), Pennsylvania (+2 cents) and Tennessee (+1 cent). The rest of the region is paying less to fill-up as compared to last Monday. These states all saw the largest drop of three cents: Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Despite the drop, Washington, D.C. ($2.50) carries the most expensive average in the region while Tennessee is the cheapest at $2.04.

With regional utilization up 2.2 percent to 74.6 and an increase in imports, the region’s gasoline stocks built by 2.3 million bbl for the week ending February 1 – the largest of any region according to EIA data. Total stocks register at 71.3 million bbl, which is a number not seen in the region since early 2017, and should help keep fluctuation in gas prices relatively moderate.

Rockies

Utah (-6 cents), Wyoming (-4 cents) and Idaho (-4 cents) have among the largest weekly declines in the country on the week. State gas price averages are also cheaper in Idaho (-3 cents). While Montana ($2.25) holds flat on the week, Colorado’s ($2.01) gas price average is down a penny and the state continues to rank as the 10th least expensive average in the entire country.

Total gasoline stocks for the Rockies region held flat at the 7.3 million bbl mark for the week ending Feb. 1, according to EIA’s latest report.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are among the highest in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. At $3.26, California and Hawaii are the most expensive markets. Washington ($2.87), Nevada ($2.85), Alaska ($2.82), Oregon ($2.76) and Arizona ($2.45) follow. Prices have been volatile on the week in the region, with Alaska seeing the largest drop (-3 cents) and California seeing the largest increase (+2 cents).

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks decreased slightly by approximately 200,000 bbl to 32.6 million bbl. Stocks are approximately 2.4 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased eight cents to settle at $52.72. Oil prices were volatile last week, following the release of new data from EIA that showed that at the end of the previous week, total domestic crude oil inventories rose less than expected – a build of only 1.3 million bbl to total 447.2 million bbl. For market observers, the price gains indicate that the global crude supply is tightening, an anticipated result of U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran’s crude exports and OPEC’s production reduction agreement of 1.2 million b/d with other non-OPEC producers, including Russia. The reduction agreement remains in effect for the first six months of 2019.

Additionally, the global crude supply is expected to tighten as a result of U.S.-imposed sanctions on crude exports from Venezuela, which could send crude prices higher. Moving into this week, global crude prices will likely remain volatile as the market also looks for indications that the trade tensions between China and the U.S. are heading toward resolution, reducing fears of lowered crude demand as a result of continued escalation of the dispute.

In related news, Baker Hughes Inc. reported that the U.S. added seven oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 854. When compared to last year at this time, there are 63 more rigs this 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.

For most states, gas prices are starting off the first week in February cheaper than the last week in January. On the week, only eight states saw gas prices increase which is a big shift from the week prior that saw increases for 25 states. With the majority of state gas price averages decreasing, the national gas price average held flat at $2.26 even though the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest demand rate reflected summer-like numbers.

For the week ending Jan 25, the EIA reported U.S. gasoline demand at 9.6 million b/d. The last time the rate was this high was during the 2018 Labor Day weekend. As the EIA rate is an estimate, it’s considered preliminary and the agency may revise it later this year when it releases final figures for the month. If the estimate is not revised, one reason for the jump could be the extreme cold weather seen last week.

“Three-fourths of the country faced below freezing temperatures last week which may have prompted many motorists, especially in the mid-west, to fill-up early and often ahead of the storm, in turn driving demand. This is similar to what we see prior to hurricanes,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Now that the storm has passed, demand is likely to fall more in-line with typical February estimates.”

Today’s national gas price average is a penny more expensive than a month ago and 34 cents less expensive than a year ago.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($1.90), Arkansas ($1.93), Oklahoma ($1.94), Kansas ($1.95), Mississippi ($1.96), Texas ($1.96), Alabama ($1.97), South Carolina ($1.98), Louisiana ($2.00) and Colorado ($2.02).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Utah (-24 cents), Wyoming (-22 cents), Colorado (-20 cents), Idaho (-20 cents), Alaska (-19 cents), Washington (-17 cents), Arizona (-17 cents), Oregon (-15 cents), Florida (+14 cents) and Ohio (+13 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

Five of the eight states in the country to see gas prices increase on the week hail from the Great Lakes and Central states (areas hard hit by last week’s Polar Vortex). They include: Illinois (+6 cents), Ohio (+6 cents), Indiana (+4 cents), Wisconsin (+4 cents) and Kentucky (+2 cents). States throughout the rest of the region have averages that are as much as a three-cents cheaper than last week. With last week’s major winter storm in the rear-view mirror, much of the region is digging out as roads are made passable. This will likely contribute toward retail prices mostly holding steady or declining in the week ahead for much of the region.

Year-over-year, motorists in the region are seeing big cost savings, among the largest in the country. Seven states in the region make the top 10 list for largest year-over-year changes, all of which are nearly 50-cents cheaper: Iowa (-58 cents), Nebraska (-55 cents), Minnesota (-53 cents), Michigan (-52 cents), Kansas (-510 cents), North Dakota (-49 cents) and Missouri (-48 cents).

EIA data for the week ending January 25 show gasoline stocks had a marginal increase of nearly 300,000 bbl. Total stocks register at 61.5 million bbl. This past weekend a fire was reported at PBF Energy’s Toledo 188,000 b/d refinery in Ohio. Local media reported that the fire started at the plant when a railroad tanker car containing gasoline exploded. No further information was available and it’s unclear the impact to refinery operations at this time.

South and Southeast

The majority of South and Southeast states are seeing gas prices decline by as much as three-cents. Florida (+6 cents), Oklahoma (+1 cent) and Louisiana (+1 cent) are the exception for the week. Two likely contributing factors to the fluctuation is this week’s substantial, nearly 4 million bbl draw in gasoline stocks combined with refinery maintenance season. With the draw, total stock levels fall to 86.6 million bbl, but continue to measure at a year-over-year surplus.

Most states in the region continue to carry averages at or below the $2/mark. Arkansas ($1.93), Oklahoma ($1.94), Mississippi ($1.96), Texas ($1.96), Alabama ($1.97), South Carolina ($1.98) and Louisiana ($2.00) carry the cheapest gas prices averages in the region and are among the 10 least expensive in the country.

Rockies

2019 continues to usher in cheaper gas prices for motorists in the Rockies region. Since January 1, retail prices are, on average, 23-cents cheaper: Utah (-26 cents), Wyoming (-24 cents), Idaho (-23 cents), Colorado (-23 cents) and Montana (-16 cents). With the decreases, Colorado’s average drops to $2.02 and ranks as the 10th least expensive average in the entire country. Prior to January, gas prices haven’t been this cheap in Colorado since March 2016.

With the exception of Montana, all Rockies states landed on this week’s top 10 list with the biggest changes. Pump prices declined the most in Utah (-5 cents). Gas prices range between $2.02 and $2.35.

The EIA reports that with the addition of 90,000 bbl, gasoline stocks in the region built slightly for the week ending January 25 and total 7.3 million bbl.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Washington, D.C. ($2.53), New York ($2.49) and Connecticut ($2.48) are the most expensive state gas price averages in the region and among the highest in the country. On the week, gas prices are one to three cents cheaper for every state in the region. Connecticut ($2.48), Delaware ($2.14) and Tennessee ($2.03) all saw the largest decreases on the week.

As the region’s refineries enter into turnaround season, the EIA reports utilization dropped from 88.6 to 72.4 percent for the week ending January 25. Despite the lower operating rate, stocks increased nearly 1 million bbl to register at 69 million bbl. The healthy supply will help to keep gas prices stable for motorists in the region. Over the weekend a crude unit fire at PBF Energy’s 190,000 b/d Delaware City, Del. refinery required several fire companies to bring it under control. It’s unclear the overall damage and impact the fire has had to the refinery at this time.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying some of the highest pump prices in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. At $3.25, California and Hawaii are the most expensive markets. Washington ($2.89), Nevada ($2.85), Alaska ($2.86), Oregon ($2.77) and Arizona ($2.47) follow. While still expensive, prices have mostly fallen on the week. Arizona (-4 cents) and Washington (-3 cents) saw the largest drops.

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks grew by approximately 400,000 bbl to 32.8 million bbl. However, stocks are approximately 1.1 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.47 to settle at $55.26. Oil prices mostly increased last week, following indications of tightened global supply this year. Alongside OPEC’s production reduction agreement of 1.2 million b/d for the first six months of 2019, the recently announced U.S.-imposed crude export ban on Venezuela has made market observers worry that global crude supplies will shrink and rebalance prices. Worries over tighter supplies amid robust demand, which could dampen because of the continued trade tensions between China and the U.S., will likely continue to lift the global price of crude.

Moreover, EIA’s weekly petroleum report this week showed that total domestic crude inventories grew by 1 million bbl last week to 446 million bbl, much less than the market expected and despite crude production maintaining its record-breaking pace at 11.9 million b/d last week. Moving into this week, crude prices will likely continue their ascent, making headway for increased gasoline prices after winter.

In related news, Baker Hughes Inc. reported that the U.S. lost 15 oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 847. When compared to last year at this time, there are 82 more rigs this 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.

Ten Hotels Join AAA’s Prestigious Five Diamond List for 2019

January 31st, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallFive Diamond properties are noted for ultimate luxury, sophistication and comfort

ORLANDO, Fla. (January 31, 2019) – With the addition of 10 new properties, AAA has unveiled the coveted 2019 Five Diamond Award list totaling 121 hotels. This exclusive group represents just 0.4 percent of the more than 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels across North America.

Additional Resources

“The Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment that recognizes the upper echelon of hotels. These properties have extraordinary physical qualities, extensive amenities and impeccable standards of excellence in delivering a highly personalized experience,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings.

Following a rigorous evaluation that includes in-person inspections, anonymous overnight stays and, finally, review by a panel of experts as an additional step to ensure credibility, 10 hotels have been added as Five Diamond honorees throughout the past year.

  • Baccarat Hotel New York (New York, New York) – Crystal chandeliers sparkle as they chime overhead and exquisite stemware overflows with champagne in the lounges, creating rich pleasures for the senses at this storybook destination from the fabled French glass company.
  • Banyan Tree Mayakoba (Playa del Carmen, Mexico) – The unique mixture of Asian and Mexican architecture is stunning throughout. This gated resort, located on the famed Riviera Maya coast, blends untouched nature in a carefully maintained ecosystem.
  • Fairmont Pacific Rim (Vancouver, Canada) – Guests are pampered at this luxury tower, which has a beautiful, innovative design. Gorgeous rooms with spectacular views feature an enhanced Pacific Northwest feel.
  • Hotel Emma (San Antonio, Texas) – Guests will be stunned by this chic hotel, the site of the former Pearl’s Brewhouse, built in 1894, including its upscale, beautifully crafted lobby, library and rooftop pool areas.
  • Montage Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) – This upscale property features several infinity-edge pools that blend in with the ocean and overlook the secluded beach. The impressive guest bathrooms feature indoor and outdoor showers.
  • NIZUC Resort & Spa (Cancun, Mexico) – This beautiful and expansive resort features rustic and elegant Mayan-inspired décor. The guest rooms are spacious with many custom furnishings and luxurious features.
  • Rosewood San Miguel de Allende (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico) – This colonial-style hacienda has gorgeous public areas and meticulously maintained gardens. The spacious guest rooms feature a refined colonial décor with a fireplace and terrace.
  • The Dominick Hotel (New York, New York) – With stellar views of the city, this bastion of contemporary luxury features swanky modern Italian furnishings, impressive artworks and marble bathrooms. The SoHo location puts you at the very heart of Manhattan’s fashion culture.
  • The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston (Houston, Texas) – Houston’s premier property offers its guests impeccable service and highest quality amenities. This contemporary hotel is a crown jewel among the city’s accommodations.
  • The St. Regis Mexico City (Mexico City, Mexico) – This gleaming hotel tower offers large rooms complete with high-tech conveniences and a butler. The views are stunning, with many overlooking iconic symbols of Mexico.

Many of this year’s new Five Diamond honorees have received top marks in the past for their physical attributes that, although impressive, were not paired with AAA’s exceptionally high Five Diamond service expectations, until now. After demonstrating notable service enhancements, San Antonio’s first Five Diamond establishment, Hotel Emma, as well as Banyan Tree Mayakoba, NIZUC Resort & Spa, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, and The St. Regis Mexico City, received the coveted fifth Diamond for the first time.

Others, like Baccarat Hotel, The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston and Montage Los Cabos, attained the AAA Five Diamond Rating shortly after opening within the past 12 months. 

Hotel trends observed by AAA inspectors, often appearing first at high-end properties, include continued developments in the use of technology to enhance service. Responding to this trend, AAA recently updated its hotel Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines, which reflect the importance of connective technologies such as availability of in-room tablets, mobile apps, interactive kiosks, mobile key technology and digital messaging services.

Those at the Four Diamond level, just 6.3 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved hotels, are also an exclusive group. They must be refined and stylish with upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail. This year, there are 1,722 Four Diamond hotels.

To see the complete lists of 2019 AAA Four and Five Diamond Hotels, visit AAA.com/DiamondAwards. To see which cities and states have the most award winners, see AAA Four and Five Diamond Hotel Facts.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The AAA inspectors who assign these ratings have a wide range of hospitality experience – their resumes include stints as hotel managers and food and beverage experts – that gives them an authoritative perspective. Inspectors provide an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging trends, which includes the continuing evolution of technology to elevate the guest experience.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 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.

Gas Price Averages Inching Up Amid Rising Demand

January 28th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Many motorists filling up across the country are noticing gas prices that are increasing slightly. While nearly 25 states’ averages increased on the week, the national average is only a penny more than a week ago at $2.26. The fluctuating national and state gas price averages come alongside an increase in gasoline demand and reflect the higher crude oil prices as of late, but it’s likely not to be a long-term trend.

“With gasoline stocks sitting at their highest level on record – 259.1 million bbl coupled with colder-than-normal weather forecasted for much of the Midwest and East Coast, motorists are likely to see demand drop and gas prices decrease or hold steady this week,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

Today’s national gas price average is three cents cheaper than a month ago and 33 cents less expensive than a year ago.

Quick Stats 

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Ohio (+10 cents), Michigan (+9 cents), Indiana (+8 cents), Georgia (+7 cents), Texas (+5 cents), North Carolina (+5 cents), Alabama (+5 cents), Alaska (-5 cents), Utah (-5 cents) and Tennessee (+4 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($1.91), Oklahoma ($1.93), Arkansas ($1.94), Kansas ($1.97), Mississippi ($1.97), Louisiana ($1.99), Texas ($1.99), Alabama ($1.99), South Carolina ($2.01) and Tennessee ($2.05).

Great Lakes and Central

The majority of Great Lakes and Central states are paying more to fill up on the week with gas prices fluctuating from $1.91 to $2.15 in the region. Of the nine states with more expensive gas prices, Ohio (+10 cents), Michigan (+9 cents) and Indiana (+8 cents), saw the biggest week-over-week changes while the other six states’ averages increased just one to three cents. All other states saw gas prices decrease as much as four cents or hold steady week-over-week.

Winter weather is likely one factor contributing to the higher prices. While colder temperatures do influence motorists to drive less, it can also influence retailers to increase prices ahead of winter storms, especially at times when motorists are stocking up or panic buying. However, the region’s high stock levels are helping to keep most price jumps moderate.

Gasoline stocks in the region sit at their largest level since 2016, a total of 61.2 million bbl. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), that is a 6.1 million bbl year-over-year surplus.

South and Southeast

For the states in this region seeing more expensive gas prices, this week’s increases are between one to seven cents more with Georgia (+7 cents), Texas (+5 cents) and Alabama (+5 cents), seeing the largest jumps, as well as landing on the top 10 list among states with the biggest changes this past week. After a large jump the week prior, Florida’s gas price average has decreased a penny to $2.22, while New Mexico ($2.07) also saw a drop and Oklahoma’s average held steady at $1.93. The region’s hefty 90 million bbl stock level, which held relatively flat on the week according to EIA data, is helping to keep any price pump increases moderate.

Rockies

Utah (-5 cents), Wyoming (-4 cents), Idaho (-3 cents), Montana (-3 cents) and Colorado (-3 cents) continue to see some of the largest gas price decreases in the country. Motorists in the Rockies region may be asking themselves ‘how low can gas prices go this winter?’, especially as Colorado continues to flirt with the $2/gal mark. Today’s averages: Idaho ($2.39), Utah ($2.38), Wyoming ($2.39), Montana ($2.26) and Colorado ($2.07).

Gasoline stocks in the region held flat on the week and continue to measure at 7.2 million bbl for the region per EIA data.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

State gas price averages are as much as a nickel more in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region on the week: North Carolina (+5 cents) and Tennessee (+4 cents). However, more states saw gas prices decrease than increase: Rhode Island (-3 cents), New Hampshire (-3 cent), New York (-2 cents), Massachusetts (-2 cents), Connecticut (-2 cents) and Vermont (-2 cents) saw the largest drops. Despite the decreases, Connecticut ($2.52) and New York ($2.51) land on this week’s top 10 states with the most expensive average in the country.

With a 2 million bbl build, EIA data measures the region’s gasoline stocks at a staggering 68 million bbl. The large stock continues to minimize fluctuation at the pump.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are the highest in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. California ($3.25) is the most expensive market followed by Hawaii ($3.24), Washington ($2.92), Alaska ($2.87), Nevada ($2.87), Oregon ($2.80) and Arizona ($2.51). While expensive, prices are falling with all state averages moving lower on the week. Alaska (-5 cents) saw the largest drop.

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks grew by approximately 900,000 bbl to 32.4 million bbl. However, stocks are approximately 2.2 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 56 cents to settle at $53.69. Overall, crude prices fell slightly last week after new EIA data showed that domestic crude oil inventories grew by an astonishing 8 million bbl last week. At 445 million bbl, the current crude inventory level is approximately 33 million bbl higher than last year at this time.

Moving into this week, increased political turmoil in Venezuela, which has seen reduced crude production during its prolonged political upheaval and economic decline, could elevate crude prices. As a result of the political crisis, the U.S. signaled that it may impose sanctions on crude exports from the country after the Trump Administration decided to recognize Venezuela’s opposition leader as interim president. Implementing crude sanctions could exert global pressure that pushes the sitting president out of office, while tightening the global supply of crude and raising crude prices.

In related news, Baker Hughes Inc. reported that the U.S. added 10 oil rigs, bringing the total to 862. When compared to last year at this time, there are 103 more rigs this 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.

The national gas price average may have held flat on the week at $2.25, but just a three cent drop would bring the U.S. average to the lowest since December 2016. However, as crude oil prices continue to climb it does not look like pump prices will drop much lower than we’ve seen so far this year.

“Crude oil prices have increased by $5/bbl since the beginning of the year, but over-supply of crude in the market and low demand have helped to keep the national average relatively stable,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Crude oil prices will be a dominant factor towards determining if motorists will see slightly cheaper or more expensive pump prices in coming weeks.”

On the week, state gas price averages fluctuated with a handful of southern and mid-western states seeing gas prices increase, though the majority of states saw averages decrease or hold flat. Today’s national gas price average is nine cents cheaper than a month ago and 29 cents less expensive than a year ago.

Quick Stats 

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Kentucky (+7 cents), Florida (+6 cents), Utah (-6 cents), Louisiana (+5 cents), Wyoming (-5 cents), Illinois (+4 cents), Oregon (-4 cents), Vermont (-4 cents), Washington (-4 cents) and Alabama (+3 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($1.90), Arkansas ($1.94), Oklahoma ($1.94), Mississippi ($1.95), Texas ($1.96), Alabama ($1.96), South Carolina ($1.97), Kansas ($1.98), Louisiana ($1.99) and Tennessee ($2.02).

South and Southeast

With the exception of New Mexico (-2 cents), all states in the South and Southeast saw gas price averages increase on the week. Florida (+6 cents) and Louisiana (+5 cents) saw the largest increases of any state in region and the country on the week. All other states averaged a two or three cent increase. Despite the jumps at the pump, the region continues to lay claim to the cheapest gas price averages in the country. A motorist can find gas for $2 or below at 3 in 4 gas stations in every South and Southeast state except New Mexico, Georgia and Florida.

Part of this week’s pump price increase could be attributed to lingering impacts from the 2018 hurricane season causing localized tight gasoline supply and higher transportation costs. Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended emergency declarations citing “ongoing emergency conditions” stemming from both Hurricane Florence and Michael for six states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that regional gasoline stocks have built week-over-week since the end of November. The latest EIA report says stocks for the South and Southeast measure at their highest level on record at 90 million bbl.

Rockies

For a second week, Utah (-6 cents), Wyoming (-4 cents) and Idaho (-3 cent) appear on the top 10 list of states with the biggest changes. Motorists in the region are seeing a real cost savings – as much as 65-cents – compared to this summer, when the majority of the region was consistently above $3/gal. Today’s averages are all at $2.50 or cheaper: Utah ($2.43), Idaho ($2.43), Wyoming ($2.41), Montana ($2.280) and Colorado ($2.09).

Gasoline stocks in the region decreased by 282,000 bbl, wiping out the bulk of the previous week’s build. Regardless, total stocks sit at a healthy 7.2 million bbl for the region.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Pump prices continue to fluctuate, though modestly, for motorists filling up in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. The majority of states saw gas prices decrease as much as four cents on the week. However, the number of states seeing gas price average increases is growing, up two from the previous week to total six states with increases: Delaware (+3 cents), Tennessee (+2 cents), North Carolina (+2 cents), Virginia (+2 cents), Maryland (+2 cents) and New Jersey (+1 cent).

Gasoline stocks in the region have jumped by a staggering 5 million bbl since the end of December, per EIA data for the week ending January 11. An increase in the winter months is not uncommon, but it’s a vast difference from the same time period last year that only saw a 2 million bbl increase. The surge in stocks, attributed to imports and low demand, combined with a 5 million bbl year-over-year surplus is helping to keep any fluctuation in the region modest.

 

Great Lakes and Central

Eleven of the top 15 states with the largest year-over-year difference in pump prices are Great Lakes and Central states: Iowa (-48 cents), Michigan (-48 cents), Nebraska (-47 cents), Wisconsin (-46 cents), Illinois (-44 cents), Minnesota (-44 cents) Indiana (+42 cents), Missouri (-41 cents), Kansas (-40 cents), North Dakota (-38 cents) and Ohio (-37 cents).

On the week, states in the region saw prices drop a penny, hold steady or increase. Six states have more expensive gas price averages to start the work week: Kentucky (+7 cents), Illinois (+4 cents), Nebraska (+2 cents), Iowa (+2 cents), Kansas (+1 cent) and Ohio (+1 cent).

With a 3 million bbl build, regional gasoline stocks sit at 60 million bbl. This is a level not seen in 10 months and is uncharacteristically high for this time of the year. With major winter weather pounding much of the region over the weekend and fewer motorists on the road, gasoline demand has the potential to drop, in turn increasing stocks in the next EIA report.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region continue to pay the highest pump prices in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. California ($3.27) and Hawaii ($3.27) are tied for the most expensive market in the nation, followed by Washington ($2.95), Alaska ($2.92), Nevada ($2.88), Oregon ($2.83) and Arizona ($2.55). While expensive, prices are falling, with all state averages moving lower on the week: Oregon (-4 cents) and Washington (-4 cents) saw the largest drops.

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks grew by approximately 800,000 bbl to 31.5 million bbl during the week ending on January 11. However, stocks are approximately 3.2 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.73 to settle at $53.80. Oil prices saw their third consecutive week of increases after the market responded positively to news that the U.S. and China are making progress in resolving their trade dispute. More indicators of economic progress could help buoy crude prices this week; however, increasing fear about slowed global economic growth throughout 2019 could suppress prices as market observers wonder if global crude demand will suffer. Additionally, OPEC released a list of specific production cuts from its members and other members of its global pact to cut global production by 1.2 million b/d for the first 6 months of 2019. The list has helped to bolster market confidence in seeing the global glut of crude decline, which will ultimately help to increase crude prices.

In related news, EIA’s weekly report showed that total domestic crude inventories fell last week by 2.6 million bbl to 437.1 million bbl. However, the current inventory level is 24.4 million bbl more than last year at this time. Domestic crude production also hit a new all-time record high, since EIA began reporting the rate in 1983, at 11.9 million b/d last week. Additionally, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that last week, the U.S. lost 21 rigs, bringing the total rig count to 852. When compared to last year at this time, there are 105 more rigs this 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.

At a penny more expensive on the week, the national gas price average ($2.25) increased for the first time since October. Despite the increase, today’s average is still cheaper month-over-month (-14 cents) and year-over-year (-28 cents).

“The price of crude oil has been slowly, but steadily increasing since the beginning of the year, which is starting to push up pump prices,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The price per barrel (WTI) increased $3 from last Monday to close on Friday to settle at $51 per barrel.”

Last week saw not only more expensive crude oil, but a sizeable build in U.S. gasoline stocks and a small increase in demand. Overall demand has been low lately, contributing to the growth in stocks and helping to keep gas prices lower despite increasing crude prices.

Quick Stats 

  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly decreases are: Montana (-33 cents), Idaho (-32 cents), Colorado (-32 cents), Wyoming (-31 cents), Utah (-29 cents), Hawaii (-27 cents), South Dakota (-24 cents), North Dakota (-22 cents), New Mexico (-21 cents) and Minnesota (-20 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest yearly decreases are: Michigan (-57 cents), Illinois (-53 cents), Iowa (-49 cents), Indiana (-48 cents), Wisconsin (-45 cents), Nebraska (-45 cents), Ohio (-44 cents), Kentucky (-43 cents), Minnesota (-41 cents) and Kansas (-40 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

Pump prices are rising across the Great Lakes and Central states with Ohio (+8 cents), Indiana (+8 cents), Missouri (+7 cents), Michigan (+6 cents), Iowa (+6 cents) and Kentucky (+4 cents) seeing the largest jumps in the region on the week. With these increases, many states’ averages have surpassed the $2/gal mark except for Missouri ($1.89) and Kansas ($1.97), though motorists can still find gas below the $2/mark in many states in the region.

For the sixth straight week, gasoline inventories built, adding a staggering 2.7 million bbl in the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Total stocks sit at 57 million bbl – a 4 million bbl year-over-year surplus.

Rockies

All states in the Rockies region, with the exception of Montana, make an appearance on the top 10 list of states with the biggest changes on the week: Wyoming (-8 cents), Colorado (-7 cents), Idaho (-7 cent) and Utah (-6 cents). For a second week, these four states saw some of the largest weekly decreases in the country. While not as large, Montana (-2 cents) saw a decrease as well.

Compared to a month ago, gas prices are nearly 40-cents cheaper in the region. In fact the top states with the largest month-over-month difference are all of the Rockies states: Montana (-33 cents), Idaho (-32 cents), Colorado (-32 cents), Wyoming (-31 cents) and Utah (-29 cents).

At 92 percent, regional refinery utilization is at its highest in weeks and gasoline stocks built, adding 242,000 bbl. Stocks are expected to continue to build throughout the winter and gas prices are likely to remain low.

South and Southeast

Gas prices are fluctuating across the South and Southeast states with increases and decreases as much as four cents on the week. Regardless, the majority of states continue to carry the cheapest gas prices in the country, with seven states landing on the top 10 list for the least expensive gas: Arkansas ($1.90), Mississippi ($1.92), Alabama ($1.92), Louisiana ($1.92), Oklahoma ($1.93), Texas ($1.92) and South Carolina ($1.95)

Total stocks continue to measure above 89 million bbl. The week brought a small build, according to EIA data.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Pump prices across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states are making small jumps and decreases this week. While most states have cheaper gas prices, as much as four cents, a few states saw prices increase: Delaware (+4 cents), Tennessee (+3 cents), Maryland (+1 cent) and Pennsylvania (+1 cent).

As demand remains low, gasoline stocks continued to grow this week adding 2.5 million bbl. EIA data shows stocks sit at a 7.6 million surplus year-over-year, which should help to keep any increases minimal for the winter.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region remain among highest in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. California ($3.28) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by Hawaii ($3.26), Washington ($2.99), Alaska ($2.94), Nevada ($2.90), Oregon ($2.88) and Arizona ($2.59). While expensive, prices are falling, with all state averages moving lower on the week: Alaska (-8 cents) and Washington (-5 cents) saw the largest drops.

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks surged by approximately 2.4 million bbl to 30.7 million bbl during the week ending on January 4, the largest one-week build in nearly 26 years. However, stocks are approximately 2.7 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased $1.00 to settle at $51.59. Although they ended down for the day, crude prices increased overall last week due to optimism that the trade tensions between China and the U.S. may be subsiding. Reduced trade volatility will likely help curtail stalled global economic growth that could have reduced global demand for crude. Moreover, with OPEC’s global pact with large non-OPEC crude producers (including Russia) to reduce crude production by 1.2 million b/d for at least the first six months of 2019 now in effect, the global glut of crude is expected to decline, helping to push crude prices higher. If crude prices continue to climb, motorists will likely see gas prices follow suit.

In related news, EIA reported that total domestic stocks of crude fell from 441.4 million bbl to 439.7 million bbl in its latest weekly petroleum status report. Additionally, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost four oilrigs last week, bringing the current total of active oilrigs to 873. When compared to the total number of active rigs at this time last year, there are 121 more rigs this 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.

The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data registers gasoline demand at 8.6 million b/d for the week ending December 28 – the lowest level on record since February 2017. Despite record motor vehicle travel for the holiday, demand was down nearly 900,000 bbl, suggesting that demand this winter could be lower than expected.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.24 and has declined for 12 weeks in a row. The national average is three-cents cheaper on the week, 20-cents cheaper than last month and 25-cents cheaper year-over-year.

“As the global crude market continues to be oversupplied, oil prices are dropping, continuing last week’s trend,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “This is good news for motorists filling up at the pump.”

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($1.82), Oklahoma ($1.90), Arkansas ($1.91), Texas ($1.91), Alabama ($1.91), South Carolina ($1.91), Mississippi ($1.91), Louisiana ($1.93), Kansas ($1.93), and Ohio ($1.95).
  • The nation’s top 10 yearly decreases are: Michigan (-55 cents), Illinois (-49 cents), Ohio (-47 cents), Indiana (-47 cents), Iowa (-47 cents), Wisconsin (-46 cents), Nebraska (-41 cents), Missouri (-41 cents), Kentucky (-39 cents), and Delaware (-36 cents).

Rockies

Motorists in Montana (-9 cents), Colorado (-7 cents), Utah (-6 cents), and Wyoming (-5 cents) saw the largest weekly decreases in the country. With the declines, state gas price averages are inching toward all being close to or below the $2.50 mark: Utah ($2.55), Wyoming ($2.54), Idaho ($2.53), Montana ($2.33), and Colorado ($2.20).

With regional refinery utilization jumping six percent on the week, gasoline stocks increased 252,000 bbl. The EIA reports that gasoline stocks for the region register at 7.2 million bbl. Historically, the region sees stocks build throughout Q1 ahead of peak summer tourism season.

Great Lakes and Central

This week, nine Great Lakes and Central states land on the top 10 list of largest year-over-year difference in gas prices in the country: Michigan (-55 cents), Illinois (-49 cents), Ohio (-47 cents), Indiana (-47 cents), Iowa (-45 cents), Wisconsin (-46 cents), Nebraska (-41 cents) Missouri (-41 cents) and Kentucky (-39 cents).

This week, gas prices in the region range from $2.20 in North Dakota to $1.82 in Missouri.

Gasoline inventories continued to build, adding 1.2 million bbl. This trend is expected to continue into the early half of the year. At 54.2 million bbl, stocks are at a 3.5 million bbl year-over-year surplus.

South and Southeast

The seven South and Southeast states that are among the top 10 cheapest in the country this week are the same as this time last year, but the year-over-year price differential is eye-opening: Arkansas (-41 cents), Oklahoma (-36 cents), Mississippi (-35 cents), Louisiana (-35 cents), South Carolina (-34 cents), Alabama (-34 cents) and Texas (-34 cents).

This week’s largest build of gasoline stocks was seen in the South and Southeast region. With the addition of 3.5 million bbl, total stocks measure at 89.2 million bbl – an all-time record according to EIA data.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

On the week, gas prices only dropped three to five cents across all Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. Connecticut ($2.58), New York ($2.58) and Washington, D.C. ($2.55) carry the most expensive gas price averages in the region and land on the top 10 list of most expensive states in the country, which was also the case last year. However, today’s averages are as much as 15 cents cheaper than at the same time in 2018.

The latest EIA data shows gasoline stocks built by 724,000 bbl. Analysts speculate this was a low build for the region and partially due to low import rates on the week. Total stocks now sit at 61 million bbl.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region continue to pay the highest pump prices in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. California ($3.32) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by Hawaii ($3.30), Washington ($3.05), Alaska ($3.01), Oregon ($2.91), Nevada ($2.92) and Arizona ($2.63). While expensive, prices are decreasing, with all state averages moving lower on the week: Hawaii (-6 cents) and Washington (-6 cents) saw the largest drops.

EIA’s recent weekly report showed that West Coast gasoline stocks increased by approximately 1.2 million bbl to 28.3 million bbl. Stocks are approximately 4.6 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 87 cents to settle at $47.96. Oil prices were volatile last week, as market observers continue to believe that the global crude market is oversupplied. Moreover, analysts are also wary of the impact a potential economic slowdown in 2019 could have on global crude oil demand. In the coming weeks, market observers will look for indications that OPEC’s global pact with large non-OPEC crude producers (including Russia) will reduce crude production by 1.2 million b/d for at least the first six months of 2019, which may help reduce the growing global glut of crude. In turn, this could drive up crude oil prices and, subsequently, gas prices.

In related news, EIA’s latest weekly petroleum status report revealed that total domestic crude inventories held steady for the second week at 441.4 million bbl. Domestic crude production also held steady for a second week at a record high of 11.7 million b/d. Steady inventories amid high production underscore how oversupplied the market currently is, while demand for gasoline remains at a two-year low. Additionally, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost eight oilrigs last week, bringing the current total of active oilrigs to 877. When compared to the total number of active rigs at this time last year, there are 135 more rigs this 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.

 

The New Year has ushered in the cheapest national gas price average in three years. To boot, at $2.25 today’s national average is even one cent cheaper than on January 1 and trends indicate that pump prices will likely remain cheap for at least the first half of the month.

 

Gas Price Averages: Jan 1-3
2016 2017 2018 2019
$1.99 $2.35 $2.49 $2.25

Today, 29 state gas price averages are at or below the national average of $2.25 with Missouri touting the cheapest at $1.83. Hawaii ($3.34) carries the most expensive average.

“With OPEC production cuts slated to take effect this week, analysts will closely be watching the price of oil,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Significant movement toward higher market prices would mean cheaper gas prices could be in the rearview mirror. However, AAA expects to see minimal volatility at the start of the cartel’s production cuts.”

The end of 2018 drove WTI crude oil prices to as low as $44/bbl, which is a steep $31 drop from the high of $77/bbl seen during June.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($1.83), Oklahoma ($1.92), Arkansas ($1.92), Texas ($1.93), South Carolina ($1.93), Ohio ($1.93), Alabama ($1.93), Mississippi ($1.93), Louisiana ($1.94) and Kansas ($1.95).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest yearly decreases are: Michigan (-60 cents), Indiana (-53 cents), Ohio (-53 cents), Illinois (-49 cents), Iowa (-44 cents), Wisconsin (-44 cents), Kentucky (-43 cents), Nebraska (-39 cents), Missouri (-38 cents) and Delaware (-34 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

During the past 10 days, gas prices have dropped by at least a dime in four Great Lakes and Central states: Indiana (-15 cents), Ohio (-14 cents), Illinois (-11 cents) and Kentucky (-10 cents). With a nickel decline, North Dakota ($2.23) has seen the smallest drop during the 10-day period.

As gas prices decline, gasoline inventories in the Midwest region jumped for the fifth straight week, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Total stocks for the week ending on December 21 total 53 million bbl, the highest level of stocks for the region since early September.

South and Southeast

Gas prices in the South and Southeast remain among the cheapest in the country, but state averages are declining at a slower rate than most states. On the week, states in the region only saw gas prices drop four or five cents with Florida ($2.15) seeing the sole nickel decline.

Regional refineries are operating at 98 percent of utilization as stocks continue to build. The latest EIA report lists total South and Southeast stocks at 85.7 million bbl – the highest on record for 2018 and levels not seen since early March of last year.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

All Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states have cheaper gas prices compared to the beginning of 2018. Delaware has the largest year-over-year savings of 34 cents.

This week, state gas price averages in the region range from $2.61 to $1.99. New York touts the highest average while Tennessee lays claim to the cheapest. On the week, motorists saw pump prices decline between two and five cents.

On the week, stock levels held flat at 60 million bbl as did regional refinery utilization (83 percent).

Rockies

Utah, (+17 cents), Wyoming (+14 cents) and Idaho (+21 cents) are three of only nine states whose gas price averages are more expensive compared to January 2018. Conversely, Montana and Colorado’s averages are 20 and 18 cents less expensive, respectively, than a year ago.

Not surprisingly, gas prices in Utah ($2.58), Wyoming ($2.58) and Idaho ($2.55) are among the 15 most expensive in the country this week.

The EIA reports that gasoline stocks held steady at 7 million bbl for week ending December 21, which is comparable to stocks at this time last year.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region remain the highest in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.34) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.34), Washington ($3.07), Alaska ($3.06), Oregon ($2.94), Nevada ($2.93) and Arizona ($2.65). While expensive, prices are decreasing, with all state averages moving lower on the week: Hawaii (-6 cents) and Washington (-6 cents) saw the largest drops. However, when compared to last year, most prices in the region are higher today, with Arizona (+34 cents), Nevada (+27 cents) and Washington (+16 cents) leading the way.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report, for the week ending on December 21, showed West Coast gasoline stocks decreased by approximately 500,000 bbl to 27.1 million bbl. Stocks are approximately 3.6 million bbl lower than at this time last year, which could cause prices to spike if there is a supply challenge in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Wednesday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.13 to settle at $46.54. Oil prices mostly fell last week, as market observers continue to believe that the global crude market is over-supplied. Moreover, new concerns are growing of a potential economic slowdown in 2019 that could lead to a decline in global demand for crude. However, recent price gains in the market underscore how volatile the market is now, which could lead crude prices higher if global supply tightens amid robust demand for crude. For now, new reports indicate that the U.S., Russia and Iraq, the second largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), saw crude production and export increases in the final months of 2018, contributing to the falling price of crude.

In related news, according to the latest weekly petroleum status report from the EIA, total domestic crude inventories took a slight step back during the week of December 21. But even with a decline of approximately 40,000, at 441.4 million bbl, domestic crude inventories are approximately 10 million bbl higher when compared to a year ago. In the coming weeks, market observers will look for indications that OPEC’s global pact with large non-OPEC crude producers (including Russia) to reduce crude production by 1.2 million b/d for at least the first six months of 2019 will help reduce the growing global glut of crude. In turn, this could drive up crude oil prices and, subsequently, gas prices.

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.

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