Posts Tagged ‘AAA Spokesperson’

At $2.89, the national gas price average is two-cents cheaper than it was a week ago amid consumer gasoline demand declining for a third week. Today’s gas price average is four-cents more than a month ago and 42-cents more expensive than a year ago.

The majority of states have seen gas prices decrease on the week with the exception of a handful of states, some of which were impacted by fuel disruptions on the west coast and in the southeast.

“Gas prices may be signaling that they are taking a turn toward slowly decreasing, which is a welcomed change for motorists who have been paying unseasonably high pump prices to fill-up as of late,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Two events last week caused small spikes in retail prices, but those spikes are short-lived.”

On Wednesday, October 12, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida and subsequently caused retail fuel shortages along its path in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Roadway clean-up efforts are underway and as power is restored, fuel deliveries will be a priority.

In addition, last week, a natural gas pipeline rupture in the Western Canadian province of British Columbia forced three Pacific Northwest (PNW) Puget Sound refineries to shut production units. Those refineries are beginning to resume normal operations, but states in the PNW saw spikes in gas prices that will likely last into the week.  

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.61), South Carolina ($2.61), Alabama ($2.62), Missouri ($2.65), Arkansas ($2.65), Louisiana ($2.65), Texas ($2.65), Delaware ($2.66), Virginia ($2.67) and Tennessee ($2.68).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Ohio (-14 cents), Michigan (-12 cents), Indiana (-10 cents), Washington (+9 cents), Oregon (+9 cents), Illinois (-8 cents), Kentucky (-7 cents), Delaware (-5 cents), Wisconsin (-5 cents) and Oklahoma (-4 cents).

South and Southeast

Hurricane Michael caused pump prices in Georgia (+2 cents) to increase on the week. However, Florida (-2 cents), South Carolina (no change) and Alabama (no change), which were also affected by the storm, saw minimal-to-no impact on gas prices. All other states in the South and Southeast are paying less or saw no change in pump prices on the week. Oklahoma (-4 cents) saw the largest price drop in the region.

One factor driving Georgia’s gas price increase is the shutdown of a Colonial Pipeline stub line, which is not a major pipeline, that runs from Atlanta south to Bainbridge. This shutdown, caused by a power outage, will have limited impact on Southern Georgia due to lower demand brought on by the storm. On Friday, officials reported the line could open over the weekend, but no reports have since been available.

For a second week, inventories saw a substantial drop, this time 1.2 million bbl on the week according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). At 78.3 million bbl, total levels sit more than one million bbl ahead of this time last year. It is likely the next EIA report will not see a large inventory decrease due to Hurricane Michael’s impact on demand, unless there is a high number of exports on the week.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are the highest for retail gasoline in the country, with six of the region’s states represented landing in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.88) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.82), Washington ($3.53), Oregon ($3.38), Alaska ($3.37), Nevada ($3.29), and Arizona ($2.92). All prices in the region have increased on the week, with Washington and Oregon (+9 cents) leading the way, due to refinery shutdowns in the PNW.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast gasoline stocks increasing slightly to 28.28 million bbl during the week that ended on October 5. Stocks are approximately 1.5 million bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which has lead to price volatility as the region grapples with refinery shutdowns in the PNW. The year-on-year deficit will likely leave prices vulnerable to more shocks this week as refineries in the region resume normal operations.

Great Lakes and Central

For the first time in weeks, all Great Lakes and Central states are seeing gas prices decline, with some pump prices declining by double-digits. Six states top the list of the largest decreases in the country: Ohio (-14 cents), Michigan (-12 cents), Indiana (-10 cents), Illinois (-8 cents), Kentucky (-7 cents) and Wisconsin (-5 cents). 

A factor helping to drive down gas prices is the increase of nearly 600,000 bbl of gasoline inventories amid declining gasoline demand. With the build, EIA data measures levels at 52 million bbl once again, which, despite being a low inventory level for the region this year, is a 2.4 million year-over-year surplus. If inventories continue to increase, prices are likely to continue to decrease.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

The majority of Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states are seeing cheaper or steady gas prices on the week. Motorists in Delaware (-5 cents), Washington, D.C. (-4 cents) and Maryland (-4 cents) saw the largest declines of all states in the region.

Not only did Delaware ($2.66) have the largest pump price drop on the week, but also it is the state with the largest month-over-month decrease at 17 cents. 

A large 1.4 million bbl build in gasoline inventories helped to keep gas prices mostly stable in the region. With the increase, total inventories measure at 70.6 million bbl, which is the highest for the region in nearly two years. The last time the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region measured at this level was January 2017. This should help to push gas prices down or stabilize them for motorists.

Rockies

After weeks of increasing gas prices, motorists in Colorado (-2 cent) and Montana (no change) are seeing signs of relief at the pump. Prices are also cheaper in Idaho (-2 cents), Utah (-1 cents) and Wyoming (-1 cent) on the week.

State gas price averages in the region fall within a 16-cent range: Idaho ($3.11), Utah ($3.01), Montana ($3.01), Wyoming ($2.95) and Colorado ($2.95). 

With a drop of nearly 190,000 bbl, gasoline inventories register at 6.75 million bbl according to EIA data. Total inventory measures close to a 325,000 deficit compared to this time last year. If inventories can remain stable amid declining demand, motorists can expect gas prices to remain mostly steady.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 37 cents to settle at $71.34. Oil prices saw whiplash last week, falling in line with the major selloff that occurred for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Crude prices may continue to climb this week as tensions in the Middle East take center stage, while U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran’s energy sector continue to loom over the market.

The slight gains crude prices saw at the end of last week occurred despite total domestic crude inventories growing to 410.0 million bbl last week, according to EIA’s latest weekly petroleum status report. However, crude storage levels are 52.2 million bbl lower than where they were this time last year. The year-over-year deficit has contributed to rising crude prices, which has led to the most expensive fall gas prices since 2014. 

In related news, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. gained eight oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 869. When compared to last year at this time, there are 126 more rigs now than in 2017.

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 Prices Seeing Resurgence

October 8th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

The national gas price average increased three-cents on the week to $2.91. All but seven states are paying more on the week. Today’s national gas price average is six-cents more than a month ago and 41-cents more than a year ago.

“The September switch-over to winter-blend gasoline ushered in cheaper gas prices compared to the summer, but that drop was short lived,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Crude oil accounts for half of the retail pump price and crude is selling at some of the highest price points in four years. That means fall and year-end prices are going to be unseasonably expensive.”

Crude oil has priced higher amid concerns of global crude supply and geopolitical tensions, including pending sanctions with Iran and Venezuela’s unstable economy.

As a result, fall gas prices have not been this expensive since 2014. At that time, motorists were paying on average more than $3/gal and crude oil was selling well above $70/bbl. This year, despite stocks increasing in the U.S. by 8 million bbl on the week, crude oil is selling at a good $25/bbl or more than last year, hitting $75/bbl last week.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($3.84), California ($3.80), Washington ($3.44), Alaska ($3.33), Oregon ($3.29), Nevada ($3.27), Idaho ($3.13), Pennsylvania ($3.08), Washington, D.C. ($3.05) and Connecticut ($3.03).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Ohio (+9 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents), Louisiana (+7 cents), California (+7 cents), Indiana (+7 cents), Virginia (+ 6 cents), New Jersey (+6 cents), Georgia (+6 cents), Washington, D.C. (+6 cents) and Alabama (+5 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

Gas prices are more expensive for every state in the Great Lakes and Central region except Wisconsin ($2.89) where prices saw no change on the week. Three states land on this week’s biggest changes list: Ohio (+9 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents) and Indiana (+7 cents). Regional refinery maintenance and expensive crude oil prices are two major factors contributing to the increase.

Compared to September, motorists are paying 5-13 cents more to fill-up in the region. Nebraska (+13 cents), Kentucky (+11 cents), Minnesota (+11 cents) and North Dakota (+11 cents) rank among the top 10 largest states in the country with the largest month-over-month increase.

Gasoline inventories dipped by 661,000 bbl, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, dropping total inventories to 51.5 million bbl.  Levels sit at one of the lowest for the region this year, but are comparable to this time last year. If inventories continue to decline, prices will likely continue to increase.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Three states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast land on the top 10 list with the largest jumps in the country this week, each with a six-cent increase: Virginia ($2.68), New Jersey ($2.91) and Washington, D.C. ($3.05).

Prices have barely dipped below the $3/gal mark since May for Pennsylvania ($3.08), Washington, D.C. ($3.05), Connecticut ($3.03) and New York ($3.01).

For a second week, gasoline inventories in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region added more than 1.6 million bbl. Totaling at 69 million bbl, inventories sit at the highest level since June 2017. Despite the build, prices continue to increase due to more expensive crude oil.

South and Southeast

Florida ($2.82) was one of the only states in the country and the only state in the South and Southeast to see gas prices remain stable on the week. For all other states, prices increased with Louisiana (+7 cents) seeing the largest jump in the region and among the top five largest increases in the country.

Even with these increases, the region carries the top six cheapest gas prices in the country, all of which are nearly a quarter or more expensive than this time last year.

State Oct 8, 2018 average Year-over-year difference
South Carolina $2.61 +27 cents
Mississippi $2.61 +30 cents
Alabama $2.62 +29 cents
Texas $2.66 +30 cents
Arkansas $2.66 +40 cents
Louisiana $2.67 +37 cents

The latest EIA data reports gasoline inventories dropped substantially (1.9 million bbl) on the week. Despite total levels registering just below 80 million bbl, the region is sitting on a 5-million bbl year-over-year surplus.

Rockies

Utah (-4 cents) and Idaho (-3 cents) were the only states in the country to see gas prices decrease on the week. Colorado (+2 cents), Montana (+1 cent) and Wyoming (+1 cent) all saw small increases in comparison to the rest of the country.

With the changes, Utah ($3.02) and Idaho ($3.13) are trending toward some of their cheapest averages since this spring. Meanwhile, Montana ($3.01) and Colorado ($2.97) reached a new-recorded high for the year in the last week.

For a second week, gasoline inventories in the Rockies increased. EIA reports a build of 231,000 bbl for 6.9 million bbl. This is the largest inventory since early May, but was expected, given the end of peak tourism season.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying the highest prices for retail gasoline in the country, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.84) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.80), Washington ($3.44), Alaska ($3.33), Oregon ($3.29), Nevada ($3.27), and Arizona ($2.91). All prices in the region have increased on the week, with California (+7 cents) leading the way. Nevada increased five cents, while Hawaii and Washington each increased four cents.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast gasoline stocks increased slightly to 27.89 million bbl during the week that ended on September 28. Stocks are approximately 760,000 bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which could lead to price volatility if there are any supply shocks in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased a penny to settle at $74.34. Crude prices bounced between gains and losses last week due to concerns around the impact of U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran, which will go into effect early next month and target Iran’s energy sector. The volatility is also attributed to concerns about the possible collapse of Venezuela’s economy. The increase in crude prices occurred despite crude oil inventories increasing by 8 million bbl to 404 million bbl last week, according to EIA. As speculation ramps up before the new sanctions on Iran take effect — which is driving increased investment in crude under the allure of even higher prices being reached later this year — crude prices will likely continue climbing next week.

In related news, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost two oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 861. However, when compared to last year at this time, there are 113 more rigs now than in 2017.

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.

Motorists Seeing Unexpected Gas Price Jumps at the Pump

October 1st, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Despite gasoline demand dropping to 9.0 million b/d and inventories growing to 235.7 million bbl, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, the national gas price average has increased three cents on the week to land at $2.88 – a pump price not seen at the national average since mid-July.

“The last quarter of the year has kicked off with gas prices that feel more like summer than fall,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “This time of year, motorists are accustomed to seeing prices drop steadily, but due to continued global supply and demand concerns as well as very expensive summertime crude oil prices, motorists are not seeing relief at the pump.”

Today’s national gas price average ($2.88) is the most expensive for the beginning of October since 2014. The average is four cents more than a month ago and 32 cents more than a year ago.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.57), Alabama ($2.57), South Carolina ($2.58), Louisiana ($2.59), Virginia ($2.62), Arkansas ($2.62), Tennessee ($2.63), Texas ($2.63), Missouri ($2.68) and Delaware ($2.69).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Florida (+10 cents), Michigan (+10 cents), California (+8 cents), West Virginia (+7 cents), Missouri (+7 cents), Ohio (-6 cents), Delaware (-6 cents), New Mexico (+6 cents), Iowa (+6 cents) and Nebraska (+5 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

Refinery maintenance across the Great Lakes and Central states continues to contribute to higher gas prices in the region. In fact, refinery utilization in the region dropped to 83 percent, which is the lowest rate since April 2016. On the week, four states have gas prices that are a nickel or more expensive: Michigan (+10 cents), Missouri (+7 cents), Iowa (+6 cents) and Nebraska (+5 cents). For a few days last week, Michigan’s gas price returned to $3.00 – a price point the state has not seen in six weeks. Once refineries wrap-up maintenance, gas prices in the region are expected to ease, though maintenance could last through November.

Three states in the region are benefitting from cheaper pump prices at the start of the week: Ohio (-6 cents), Indiana (-4 cents), Kentucky (-3 cents) and Illinois (-3 cents).

The positive news is that Great Lakes and Central states’ gasoline inventories remain at a healthy 52.2 million bbl level. If inventories fall dramatically, motorists could see prices spike even more in the region.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

States in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region are seeing fluctuation on the week. For most states, that means small jumps or declines of a few pennies. West Virginia (+7 cents), Delaware (-6 cents) and Tennessee (+5 cents) saw the largest changes in gas prices on the week in the region. With some gasoline supply likely coming from the Mid-West, West Virginia and Tennessee’s spikes can be tied to refinery maintenance in that region.

With the addition of 1.6 million bbl, gasoline inventories sit at their highest level – 67.4 million bbl –  for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this year. The large increase helped to minimize gas price increases for most states. The last time levels exceeded the 67.4 million bbl was mid-June 2017.

South and Southeast

Most states in the South and Southwest region saw small – one to four cent – increases with the exception of Florida (+10 cents) and New Mexico (+6 cents). Given that gasoline inventories in the region sit at a large 7.2 million bbl year-over-year surplus, the unseasonal price pump jumps are likely due to more expensive crude oil prices, which account for 50 percent of a retail price. Gas stations are just now likely passing on the increased costs of more expensive gasoline.

Three states in the region have the smallest year-over-year change in gas price of all states in the country: Georgia (+10 cents), South Carolina (+16 cents) and Alabama (+16 cents).

On the week, gasoline inventories built by 920,000 bbl to total at 81.5 million bbl.

Rockies

Utah and Idaho continue to see gas prices decline this week, with each seeing a four-cent decrease. Wyoming (-1 cent) also saw a drop. Conversely, motorists in Montana (+5 cents) and Colorado (+2 cents) are paying more on the week.

Compared to this summer, Colorado and Montana are seeing more expensive fall pump prices, which could be tied to higher costs for gas stations to purchase gasoline, due to higher crude oil prices in the summertime.

According to the EIA, gasoline inventories grew by 220,000 bbl to register at 6.7 million bbl. Despite this being a healthy inventory level for this time of year, it is not contributing toward cheaper gas prices for some states in the region.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are among the highest prices for retail gasoline in the nation, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.80) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.73), Washington ($3.40), Alaska ($3.30), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.22) and Arizona ($2.88). All prices in the region have increased on the week, with California (+8 cents) leading the way. Alaska and Nevada each increased three cents, while Hawaii and Washington each increased two cents.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks fell by a sizeable 1 million bbl to 27.9 million bbl during the week that ended on September 21. Stocks are 800,000 bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which could lead to price volatility if there are any supply shocks in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased $1.13 to settle at $73.25. Crude prices rallied last week due to concerns around the impact of U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran and economic collapse in Venezuela on global crude supply this fall. The increase in crude prices occurred despite crude oil inventories increasing to 396 million bbl last week after five consecutive weeks of decline, according to EIA’s report for the week ending on September 21. Domestic crude inventories are now roughly 75 million bbl lower than were they were at this time last year. The new crude data from EIA will likely leave the market searching for additional evidence of supply constraints, including this week’s EIA report, which could push crude prices even higher this fall.

In related news, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost three oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 863. However, when compared to last year at this time, there are 113 more rigs now than in 2017.

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.

Pump Prices Trend Lower for Majority of Motorists

September 24th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Motorists in 32 states are welcoming cheaper or stable gas prices at the start of the workweek. Today’s national gas price average is $2.85, which is the same price as last Monday, one-cent more than last month and 27-cents more expensive than this time last year.

The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data reports that both U.S. gasoline demand and stocks declined signaling supply and demand are in sync post the summer. This is true for most regions, except in the Great Lakes and Central region where prices are increasing due to maintenance at a handful of refineries.

While the national gas price has remained stable throughout September, the price of crude oil started to increase in the last week.

“Crude oil prices pushed past $70/bbl for three days last week,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “If they trend above this level for a sustained amount of time, we could see a trend reversal in pump prices meaning it may cost more to fill-up as we get closer to the end of the year.”

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.53), Mississippi ($2.53), Louisiana ($2.57), South Carolina ($2.58), Tennessee ($2.58), Arkansas ($2.59), Texas ($2.59), Virginia ($2.61), Missouri ($2.61) and North Carolina ($2.68).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Delaware (-8 cents), Kentucky (+6 cents), Michigan (-5 cents), North Dakota (+5 cents), Oklahoma (+5 cents), Indiana (+5 cents), Iowa (+5 cents), Minnesota (+5 cents), Illinois (+4 cents) and Nebraska (+4 cents).

Great Lakes and Central

Unlike most of the country, state gas price averages in the Great Lakes and Central region continue to trend more expensive. States in the region with the largest increase on the week: Kentucky (+6 cents), North Dakota (+5 cents), Indiana (+5 cents), Iowa (+5 cents), Minnesota (+5 cents), Illinois (+4 cents), Nebraska (+4 cents), Wisconsin (+4 cents), and Kansas (+4 cents). There was one outlier, Michigan (-5 cents), the only state to see prices drop in the last seven days.

Overall, the increase in gas prices can be attributed to planned and unplanned maintenance at half a dozen refineries in the region. In fact, total inventory in the Great Lakes and Central region sits at 52.3 million bbl according to the EIA. Despite being on par with levels this time last year, the 52 million mark is one of the lowest levels seen since Memorial Day Weekend this year. The low inventory is a contributing factor for the increasing gas prices.

Despite similar year-over-year inventory levels, some motorists in the region are paying in the neighborhood of 50-cents more to fill up compared to last September: Indiana (+58 cents), Ohio (+53 cents), Illinois (+49 cents) and Michigan (+46 cents).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

On the week, gas prices are cheaper across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states with Delaware (-8 cents) seeing the largest pump price drop in the country and the region.

Following Hurricane Florence, state gas price averages dropped a penny in both North Carolina and Virginia. The Department of Energy’s latest situational report dated September 22 details that some coastal areas in North Carolina continue to see localized gas station outages due to power outages and conditions preventing resupply from terminals.

Compared to one month ago, gas prices fluctuate between two cents more expensive or cheaper across the region: Maryland (+2 cents), Connecticut (-2 cents), Rhode Island (-2 cents), Pennsylvania (+2 cents), West Virginia (+2 cents) and Maine (+2 cents).

Gasoline inventories declined by 1 million bbl on the week, according to the EIA. However, sitting at a healthy 65.8 million bbl in total, the draw did not have a large impact on week-over-week gas prices.

South and Southeast

Gas prices continue to trend cheaper for the majority of South and Southwest states with South Carolina and Florida seeing the largest decreases on the week of two-cents. Only Oklahoma (+5 cents), New Mexico (+2 cents) and Arkansas (+2 cents) saw gas prices increase in the region.

The region lays claim to six of the top 10 cheapest gas prices in the country this week: Alabama ($2.53), Mississippi ($2.53), Louisiana ($2.57), South Carolina ($2.58), Arkansas ($2.59) and Texas ($2.59).

With a draw of nearly 675,000 bbl, total inventories sit at 80.5 million bbl, which is the lowest level for the region in the last four weeks. Most motorists in the region can expect gas prices to continue to decrease as demand steadily drops.

Rockies

Utah (-4 cents), Idaho (-2 cents) and Wyoming (-2 cents) are among the top 10 states in the country to see the largest pump price drops on the week. Motorists in Colorado (+2 cents) saw a slight increase while those in Montana saw no change. Overall, gas prices in the Rockies states remain relatively stable as gasoline inventories increased slightly, pushing closer to the 6.5 million bbl mark.

The five Rockies states rank among the top 16 most expensive gas price averages in the country: Idaho ($3.19), Utah ($3.10), Wyoming ($2.97), Montana ($2.95) and Colorado ($2.93).

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying some of the highest prices for retail gasoline, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.78) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.65), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.30), Oregon ($3.25), Nevada ($3.19) and Arizona ($2.87). Prices in the region remain relatively flat compared to last week, except for one-cent jumps in California and Hawaii. Alaska’s price dropped a penny, marking the largest decrease in the region on the week.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks grew by 500,000 bbl to 28.9 million bbl during the week that ended on September 14. Stocks are 1.2 million bbl higher than where they were at this time last year, which could shield against a price spike this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, the WTI increased 46 cents to settle at $70.78. Oil prices jumped higher last week after EIA’s report showed another decline in oil inventories, which now sit at 394.1 million bbl. The supply drop from the previous week’s 396.2 million bbl has put another spotlight on limited global supply as fall approaches. U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran and sharp reductions in economically stressed Venezuela are two factors driving concerns that this fall there could be major global crude supply challenges. If EIA’s report this week shows another decrease in domestic crude stocks, oil prices are likely to continue their ascent amid continuing global supply concerns.

In related news, OPEC and its partners who have worked to reduce their combined total crude output since January 2017 met on September 23 in Algiers, Algeria, to discuss compliance with their production agreement. After the meeting, OPEC’s leaders confirmed that the cartel does not intend to increase crude production in the near future to offset global supply concerns.

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 Prices Remain Stable Amid the Aftermath of Hurricane Florence

September 17th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

While Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend with life-threating storm-surge, rain and flooding, it has had little to no impact on gas prices, with the national average, holding steady at $2.85 on the week.

Gas prices have not seen much movement because unlike the Gulf Coast, which is home to dozens of refineries, the Carolinas house only pipelines and terminals. This means U.S. crude processing is not impacted and therefore neither are gas prices nationally.

Prior to Florence’s arrival, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the Lower Atlantic Region’s total gasoline stocks — which includes West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — measured at 27.9 million bbl. That is 10 percent higher than the 5-year average for this time of year.

“Gasoline stocks in the hurricane-impacted area are healthy, but delivery of gasoline will be an impediment to meeting demand in coastal areas this week,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As power is restored, water recedes and roads open-up, we will have a better idea of how quickly fuel deliveries can be made to gas stations in the area. And while fuel availability at stations is a concern, AAA expects station outages to be short-lived.”

According to the Department of Energy, states are working closely with industry to expedite resupply shipments to impacted areas. AAA will continue to monitor hurricane recovery efforts and fuel resupply.

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.52), Mississippi ($2.54), Arkansas ($2.57), Louisiana ($2.58), Tennessee ($2.59), South Carolina ($2.60), Missouri ($2.60), Texas ($2.60), Virginia ($2.62) and Oklahoma ($2.64).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Colorado (+10 cents), Indiana (-6 cents), Delaware (+6 cents), Florida (-5 cents), South Carolina (+5 cents), Louisiana (-4 cents), Alaska (-4 cents), Utah (-4 cents), Iowa (+4 cents) and California (+4 cents).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Hurricane Florence drove up gas prices in North Carolina (+3 cents) and Virginia (+1 cents) this past week. All other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region saw prices decrease by a few cents or remained stable.

For motorists in coastal parts of North Carolina and Virginia, fuel availability post Hurricane Florence is a concern. As residents evacuated, panic-buying and tank-topping set-in, leaving some gas stations with low to no fuel at their pumps. The positive news is that Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regional gasoline inventories sit at a healthy 66.7 million bbl, which is not only the second highest inventory level recorded for the region this year, but a level not seen in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region since March 2016. This means that the region has adequate supply on-hand, and, weather-dependent, could be a resource to assist with resupply in the hurricane-impacted area, once water levels subside, roads are passable and power is restored.

South and Southeast

Hurricane Florence pushed up South Carolina’s ($2.60) state gas price average by just a penny on the week. Otherwise, pump prices for the majority of the South and Southeast are getting cheaper or seeing no change. Florida saw the largest drop of 3-cents during the last seven days while a one-cent drop was seen in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Pipelines and terminals are located in South Carolina, but were unaffected by the storm. Those facilities deliver approximately 3 million b/d of refined products to the eastern U.S. Once delivery trucks are able to take to the roads, the South and Southeast pipelines and terminals will help with resupply to the coastal areas.

As Gulf Coast refineries have not been impacted by the hurricane, processing continues as normal. South and Southeast gasoline inventories built by 600,000 on the week, according the EIA’s latest report. Total inventories measure at 81.2 million bbl, which is a healthy level for this time of year.

Great Lakes and Central

As area refineries undergo maintenance, state gas price averages in the Great Lakes and Central region are as much as five-cents more expensive since last Monday: Iowa (+5 cents), Nebraska (+4 cents), Ohio (+4 cents), and South Dakota (+3 cents). Only Missouri ($2.61) and Kansas ($2.66) saw a drop in pump prices on the week.

Today, there is a 32-cent difference in the most expensive state gas prices in the region carried in Michigan at $2.93 and least expensive at $2.61 in Missouri.

As pump prices see relatively small volatility, gasoline inventories continue to hover at the 53.1 million bbl mark. However, with unplanned and planned maintenance at some Great Lakes and Central refineries, inventories could decline this fall.

Rockies

On the week, Utah (-2 cents) and Idaho (-1 cents) motorists are paying less to fill-up. In fact, gas price averages across the Rockies states are mostly moving toward a return to pre-summer pump prices. Here is a snapshot of state gas prices since Memorial Day, at their highest summer price and today’s price:

  State gas price average on May 24, 2018 (start of Memorial Day Weekend) Highest gas price average this summer by state State gas price average on September 17, 2018
Colorado $2.89 $2.91 $2.91
Idaho $3.17 $3.26 $3.21
Montana $2.91 $2.95 $2.95
Utah $3.15 $3.21 $3.13
Wyoming $2.87 $3.00 $2.98

As demand begins to drop in the region, gasoline inventories took a small draw and continue to hover near the 6.5 million bbl mark. Gas prices will continue to trend cheaper as demand draws into the fall.

West Coast

The West Coast remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.77) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.64), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.20) and Arizona ($2.87). Prices in the region remain relatively flat compared to last week, except for a one-cent jump in California and Arizona.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks totaled 28.4 million bbl during the week that ended on September 7 – a gain of 100,000 bbl from the previous week. Stocks are 1.3 million bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which could support a price spike if supplies remain low amid an increase in demand.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 40 cents to settle at $68.99. Oil prices have edged higher last week following the release of the EIA’s weekly petroleum report that showed crude stocks fell by 5.3 million bbl last week. If supplies fall again in this week’s report, crude prices could climb further. Dwindling supplies have put a spotlight on shrinking global crude inventories, which could cause oil prices to push to $70-$80/bbl this fall. Continued decline in crude production from Venezuela and anticipated reduced crude exports from Iran due to U.S.-imposed sanctions that go into effect in November could place greater pressure on the market. In the near term, U.S. crude production has not been impacted by Hurricane Florence, as there were no refineries in Florence’s path.

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.

AAA: New Cars Lose $3,000 Annually from this Single Expense

September 13th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Drivers should keep resale value top of mind when buying a new vehicle

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sep. 13, 2018) – AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study reveals the largest expense associated with purchasing a new car is something many drivers fail to consider – depreciation. In fact, it accounts for almost 40 percent of the cost of owning a new vehicle – more than $3,000 per year – and is influenced by a number of factors, including shifting consumer preferences. AAA urges car buyers to think about both market trends and length of ownership when shopping for their next vehicle purchase. 

“New vehicles offer the latest designs, cutting-edge technologies and warranties that offer peace of mind,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But, car owners that like to change vehicles frequently should be thinking about the resale value – not just the purchase price – when choosing their next ride.”

Additional Resources

AAA’s annual analysis found demand for sedans has slipped as American appetite shifts to SUVs and pickup trucks. As a result, depreciation costs of these once-popular vehicles increased up to 13 percent as compared to last year. Electric and hybrid vehicles, however, have seen a gain in popularity with 20 percent of Americans saying they will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent the previous year. This year, these vehicles also saw a dip in depreciation and offer many cost benefits such as lower repair and maintenance bills, making going green a more affordable choice than in years past.

Buyers often only give priority to purchase price and monthly payment when choosing a new car, sometimes selecting a vehicle based on the best deal available. The length of car ownership, however, is of equal importance. Consumers who plan to keep a vehicle for only a few years should be cautious of deep discounts and incentives offered by automakers and dealers. These are often designed to sell less popular models and directly influence depreciation. Low down payments and extended finance terms can also have a similar effect. Stretching a car loan over five, six or even seven years may be an effective way to lower payments, but owners may quickly find themselves owing more than the vehicle is worth.

Leasing is similarly affected since payments are based in part on the projected residual value of the car at the end of the lease, serving as a good indicator of which models experience higher or lower depreciation. Since resale value is not a factor at the end of the lease period, buyers who prefer less popular models or only want a vehicle for a short time, may consider leasing a more viable option.

“The secret to minimizing depreciation costs?” continued Nielsen. “Keep your car for a long time and keep it well-maintained or even consider buying a quality, pre-owned vehicle.”

AAA’s Your Driving Costs found the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle in 2018 is $8,849 per year. The figure is calculated based on the cost of fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and loan interest. The study examined 45 top-selling 2018 model-year vehicles across the following nine categories.

Vehicle Type Annual Cost*
Small Sedan $6,777
Hybrid $7,485
Small SUV $7,869
Electric Vehicle $8,384
Medium Sedan $8,866
Minivan $9,677
Medium SUV $9,697
Large Sedan $9,804
Pickup Truck $10,215
Average $8,849

*Based on 15,000 miles driven annually

While the latest technology, style and options make them attractive to car buyers, a new car may not be the most economical choice for some buyers. Vehicle owners looking for alternatives to new car ownership or ways to minimize their operating costs should consider the following:

  • Buy (gently) used – By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.
  • Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium grade gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Show your car some love – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running cleaner and longer, consider switching to synthetic oil and upgrading to a higher quality fuel TOP TIER™ gasoline.
  • Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including those for fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and finance charges can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com or AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

On the week, the national gas price average jumped a penny to land at $2.85. Prices remain relatively stable across the country as gasoline demand dipped slightly and gasoline inventories incrementally built according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports.

With the switchover to winter-blend gasoline fast approaching (September 15), gas prices are expected to decline this month. The threat of Hurricane Florence —  which is now a Category 2 storm and projected to hit between South Carolina and Virginia by end of this week —will likely have an impact on East Coast gas prices this week should the storm follow its projected path.

“A storm like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand. Motorists can expect spikes in pump prices to be brief, but possibly dramatic,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “AAA will continue to monitor the storm and will provide updates. Motorists can find the latest gas prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.”

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.52), Mississippi ($2.54), Arkansas ($2.57), Louisiana ($2.58), South Carolina ($2.59), Tennessee ($2.59), Virginia ($2.61), Missouri ($2.61), Texas ($2.62) and Oklahoma ($2.63).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Michigan (-12 cents), South Dakota (-10 cents), Illinois (-10 cents), Colorado (+7 cents), North Dakota (-7 cents), Alaska (-7 cents), Nebraska (-6 cents), Florida (-6 cents), District of Colombia (-5 cents) and Tennessee (-5 cents).

West Coast

The West Coast remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.77) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.63), Washington ($3.39), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.20) and Arizona ($2.86). Prices in the region remain relatively flat compared to last week, except for a one-cent jump in California, Washington and Nevada.

According to OPIS, a handful of West Coast refineries including Andeavor’s Martinez refinery, Chevron’s Richmond refinery and two Phillip’s 66 refineries near San Francisco and Puget Sound may begin refinery maintenance in the coming weeks. The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks totaled 28.3 million bbl, which is 2 million more than the 26.3 million bbl seen at the same time last year. This 2 million bbl cushion in gasoline stocks may prevent increases at the pump during refinery turnaround season, barring any unforeseen unplanned outages or prolonged maintenance.

Great Lakes and Central

Motorists in the Great Lakes and Central states are seeing pump prices mostly remaining steady on the week. Only three states saw any ‘significant’ spikes in gas prices: Michigan (+6 cents), Indiana (+4 cents) and Kentucky (+4 cents). South Dakota and Missouri both have the largest pump price drop – three cents – of all states in the region.

Compared to one month ago, motorists in every state in the region – except Ohio (+1 cent) – are paying less to fill up. Five Great Lakes and Central states land on the top 10 largest monthly changes list: Michigan (-12 cents), South Dakota (-10 cents), Illinois (-10 cents), North Dakota (-7 cents) and Nebraska (-6 cents).

Gasoline inventories built slightly on the week to register at 53.1 million bbl, which is the largest inventory level recorded for this time of year since 2008. With demand expected to continue declining, and taking into account high inventory levels, motorists in the region can expect prices to steadily decline this fall.

South and Southeast

Pump prices have jumped as much as a nickel in the South and Southeast on the week, but only for a few states: South Carolina (+5 cents), Georgia (+3 cents) and Texas (+3 cents). These three states land on the Top 10 with the largest jumps in pump prices on the week. Florida saw prices drop by four cents, the largest of any state in the region, while most states are seeing pump prices a penny cheaper or stable since last Monday.

As Hurricane Florence approaches, South Carolina and surrounding states could see brief spikes in pump prices this week.

Gasoline inventories continue to register slightly above 80.6 million bbl, according to the EIA’s latest data report. Total inventories are slightly higher compared to most of July and early August, which saw levels below 80 million, indicating that demand may be strong through the region through early fall. This could mean gas prices may not drop as quickly as expected post Labor Day.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Delaware saw gas prices make a late-in-the-season 12-cents spike on the week, which was the largest jump in the country and in the region. Part of this increase could be connected to a recent drop in regional refinery utilization that is linked to the unplanned shutdown at Phillip’s Bayway refinery last month. Also seeing increases of more than a penny on the week: Maryland (+4 cents), New Jersey (+3 cents), Pennsylvania (+2 cents) and Maine (+2 cents).

As most states see prices decline, four Mid-Atlantic and Northeast state averages still remain at $3/gal or more heading into fall: Pennsylvania ($3.07), Connecticut ($3.04), New York ($3.00) and Washington, D.C. ($3.00).

Last week, all eyes were on tropical storm Gordon. This week it is Hurricane Florence, which will most likely impact North Carolina and Virginia pump prices and surrounding states if the storm stays on its projected path.

For a second week, gasoline inventories added a surprise build of nearly 2 million bbl, which is helping to keep most state gas price averages steady. Sources say a good bit of the inventory uptick can be attributed to strong imports. Total inventory for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast sits at 66 million bbl.

Rockies

Motorists in Utah (-3 cents), Idaho (-2 cents) and Wyoming (-1 cent) continue to welcome steady pump price declines after a very expensive summer. Despite the cheaper averages, Idaho ($3.23) and Utah ($3.16) still carry two of the ten most expensive gas price averages in the country.

Gasoline inventories had a small, but unexpected small 561,000 bbl build on the week, according to EIA data. At 6.5 million bbl, it is one of the lower readings for the region this year. Gas prices could see larger declines if inventories increase and demand drops in the coming weeks.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped two cents to settle at $67.75. The drop in the price of crude oil can be attributed to several factors including increasing U.S. gasoline inventories, wariness regarding U.S. sanctions against Iran, and instability in production in Libya and Venezuela. According to EIA’s report, total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.8 million bbl last week and are about 7 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. At the same time crude oil stocks dropped 4.3 million barrels from the previous week as refinery utilization rates reached 96.6 percent. These market dynamics are mostly keeping gas prices flat, but a factor that may negatively impact prices is the threat of Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic. While it is still too early to pinpoint exactly where it will make landfall, the National Hurricane Center reports landfall could occur somewhere between South Carolina and Virginia late 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 Prices Remain Steady Despite High Demand

September 4th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

At $2.83, the national gas price average is trending toward lower gas prices that motorists haven’t seen since early May. Today’s national gas price average is one-cent less on the week, four-cents cheaper than last month, but 19-cents more than a year ago.

Motorists took advantage of these stable and lower prices by driving gasoline demand to its highest level ever on record at 9.899 bbl for the week ending August 24, according to the Energy Information Administration. But that spike is not expected to continue.

“With summer in the rearview mirror, demand is expected to significantly drop off in the coming weeks which means motorists can expect to see gas prices steadily decline,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “AAA expects the national average to hit $2.70 or less this fall.”

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Hawaii($3.78), California ($3.62), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Idaho ($3.25), Nevada ($3.19), Utah ($3.18), Pennsylvania ($3.05), and Connecticut ($3.04).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Indiana (-16 cents), Kentucky (-12 cents), Illinois (-11 cents), Delaware (-10 cents), Ohio (-10 cents), Idaho (+10 cents), Utah (+10 cents), Alaska (-9 cents), South Dakota (-8 cents) and Michigan (-8 cents).

West Coast

The West Coast remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline, and most of the states represented in the nation’s top ten most expensive are located west of the Rockies. Hawaii ($3.78) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.62), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.19) and Arizona ($2.86). Prices in the region are mostly flat compared to last week, except for a two-cent jump in both California and Oregon.

Last week’s, Energy Information Administration report showed West Coast gasoline supplies dropped by 1.2million bbl, their largest one-week draw in five months. The region’s supplies now sit at 28.9 million bbl, which is still 2.7 million bbl higher than the same week last year.

Great Lakes and Central

Gas prices continue to be volatile in the Great Lakes and Central states with gas price averages as much as seven-cents cheaper in Michigan to six-cents more expensive in Missouri on the week. While some states in the region saw slight increases at the pump due to the holiday weekend, most states are seeing cheaper pump prices, which will likely be the trend for the region in coming weeks as gasoline demand is expected to level off.

Despite a draw in inventory, regional levels remain at a healthy nearly 53 million bbl – which is helping to keep most gas prices down. The EIA reports that total levels are on par with this time last year.

South and Southeast

Gas price averages are on a roller coaster ride in the South and Southeast. On the week, gas prices are up, down and stable throughout the region: Florida (+6 cents), Texas (-2 cent), Louisiana (-1 cent). Pump prices held fairly steady in Georgia ($2.70), Alabama ($2.53), South Carolina ($2.53), Arkansas ($2.57) and Mississippi ($2.55).

Some of the volatility is likely due the region’s drop in demand as seen in the year-over-year 1.5 million bbl deficit in gasoline inventories. Despite the deficit, the EIA reports total inventory for the South and Southeast at 80.9 million bbl, which is one of the largest readings in the region for July and August 2018 data.

Residents and businesses are bracing for tropical storm Gordon, which is forecast to make landfall late Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane along the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi. The National Hurricane Center warned of storm surges and possible tornadoes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. AAA will continue to monitor the storm and will provide updates and information that may impact gas prices.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas prices continue to trend flat across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.

Gasoline inventories added a surprise for this time of year- landing at 837,000 bbl, according to the latest EIA data. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were the only regions to see an inventory build. At 64 million bbl in total, the region is sitting on a 1.5 million surplus, which is helping to keep gas prices flat and cheaper than earlier this summer.

Rockies

After weeks of steady increases, gas price averages in Utah (-2 cents), Wyoming (-1 cent) and Idaho (-1 cent) have dropped, though not by much. Conversely, prices are up on the week for motorists in Colorado (+3 cents).

The discrepancy in pump price can be attributed, in part, to declining inventory level. Totaling 5.9 million bbl, regional inventories sit at their lowest level since August 2014. The drop has contributed to the rise in prices in some states and toward small decreases in both Idaho’s ($3.25) and Utah’s ($3.18) very expensive state averages.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased 45 cents to settle at $69.80. Oil prices reflected modest gains last week, following the release of EIA’s report, which showed U.S. crude inventories fell nearly 2.6 million bbl. The U.S. also saw gasoline production increase last week, averaging 10.2 million barrels per day and refinery capacity sitting at 93.6%. Another sign of increased U.S. production came with the gain of two oil rigs bringing the U.S. total to 862 according to Baker Hughes.

International factors are also impacting global supply and demand for crude oil as Iranian oil exports drop as a result of sanctions. The market may react to tightened supply and pressure prices higher as a result of the next round of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran that are expected in November.

Market watchers will keep a close eye on the impacts of additional Iran sanctions and the storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Both factors could affect prices at the pump moving forward.

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.

2018 AAA Gas Watchers Guide Provides Tips to Conserve Fuel and Save Motorists Money

WASHINGTON (August 29, 2018) – AAA forecasts that the national gas price average will drop to $2.70 this fall and has the potential to drop even more. That is 14-cents less a gallon compared to today’s price and more than a quarter cheaper than this year’s recorded high of $2.97 set in May.

Additional Resources

“Cheaper-to-produce gasoline and relatively stable crude oil prices in August, combined with an anticipated drop in consumer gasoline demand post-Labor Day, means consumers will see savings when they fill-up at the pump this fall,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “However, several outliers can reverse this forecast, including crude oil prices, geopolitical tensions and the mere threat of a hurricane.”

2018 gas prices have been significantly more expensive than 2017. In fact, the year-to-date-national gas price average ($2.73) is 41-cents more. Trends for year-over-year state averages include:

  • The top 10 states with the largest year-over-year difference in gas price averages are mostly West Coast, Northeast or Mid-Atlantic states: California (+57 cents), Hawaii (+54 cents), Indiana (+49 cents), Arizona (+48 cents), Oregon (+46 cents), Connecticut (+45 cents), Rhode Island (+45 cents), Utah (+45 cents) and Massachusetts (+44 cents).
  • Four Great Lakes and Central and one Southern state carry the smallest year-over-year difference in gas prices: South Dakota (+37 cents), Missouri (+37 cents), Louisiana (+36 cents), Iowa (+36 cents) and Nebraska (+35 cents).

What will drive pump prices down this fall?

Part of the anticipated drop in fall pump prices is due to the switchover to winter-blend gasoline in mid-September. The difference between summer- and winter-blend gasolines involves the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the fuel. RVP is a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The more volatile a gasoline (higher RVP), the easier it evaporates. Winter-blend fuel, which is cheaper to produce, has a higher RVP because the fuel must be able to evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, especially when the engine is cold.

In addition, the arrival of fall historically means a drop in consumer gasoline demand as summer road trips and vacations subside. 

What could prevent cheaper gas prices from coming to a pump near you?

  • Crude Market Volatility: Much of 2018 has brought volatility to the domestic and global crude markets, as market watchers try to glean insight into forces that will shape global supply this fall. These forces include:
    • Venezuela is a major crude producer for the Western Hemisphere, but its collapsing economy could halt its crude production.
    • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced an increase in production over the summer, but slower-than-expected production growth could contribute to higher crude prices during the second half of the year.
    • Geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East and around the globe could disrupt vital crude flows.
  • Iran Sanctions: When President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal in May, the decision sent the crude markets into upheaval. In August, the first round of re-imposed sanctions on the country, which target Iran’s financial sector, went into effect and led to a brief uptick in crude prices. The next round of sanctions, currently scheduled to take effect in November, will target Iran’s energy sector – including its crude exports – and will likely have a more sustained impact on crude prices. If and when those sanctions take effect, crude prices will likely surge over an expected reduction in Iranian crude exports and increased tension in the region that could destabilize global crude flows.
  • Updated Hurricane Forecast: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center predicts a total of 9–13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater of which 4-7 will become hurricanes) including up to two major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). An average six-month hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six becomes hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The mere threat of a hurricane in the U.S. would cause pump prices to spike, likely regionally, due to constrained supply and delivery challenges.

 

AAA 2018 Gas Watcher’s Guide

In time for fall, AAA is releasing the 2018 Gas Watcher’s Guide with tips for conserving fuel, saving money and maintaining fuel efficiency. The Guide offers these tips – and many more – for motorists to keep in mind as they fill-up at the pump:

  • If your vehicle’s engine does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, don’t buy it. Using anything other than regular grade is simply a waste of money.
  • Don’t top off your gas tank. Stop filling after the automatic nozzle shuts off the second time.
  • If you have to replace a gas cap, make sure it is the right one for your car. An ill-fitting cap will increase emissions and trigger the “check engine” light.
  • Keep track of gas mileage. If you notice a sudden decrease in fuel economy, have your vehicle checked by a technician to ensure it is operating properly.

Motorists can find current gas prices at GasPrices.AAA.com and 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.

Motorists across the country continue to see their local pump prices dropping. On the week, state gas price averages declined as much as four cents while the national gas price average held steady at $2.84, which is two-cents cheaper than a month ago, but 48-cents more than a year ago.

“With Labor Day approaching, motorists could see a small swing towards higher gas prices, but any jump should not last past the holiday weekend,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

Last year’s Labor Day weekend saw gas prices spike, but that was due to Hurricane Harvey. As it battered the Southeast, it shut down refineries and pipelines driving gas prices toward their highest point of 2017 ($2.67). Despite no hurricane activity this Labor Day weekend, gas prices will be at their highest point for the holiday since 2014.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Hawaii($3.76), California ($3.60), Washington ($3.37), Alaska ($3.32), Idaho ($3.26), Oregon ($3.25), Utah ($3.20), Nevada ($3.19), Connecticut ($3.04) and Pennsylvania ($3.03).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Ohio (+10 cents), Michigan (+5 cents), Wyoming (+4 cents), Florida (-4 cents), Colorado (+3 cents), South Dakota (-3 cents), Georgia (-3 cents), Kansas (-3 cents), Missouri (-3 cents) and Utah (+2 cents).

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are among the highest in the country: Hawaii ($3.76), California ($3.60), Washington ($3.37), Alaska ($3.32), Oregon ($3.25), Nevada ($3.19) and Arizona ($2.86). When compared to last week, most pump prices in the region are flat. Alaska and Arizona had the biggest changes, dropping by a penny each.

According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) petroleum status report for the week ending on August 10, inventories of gasoline in the region decreased by 200,000 bbl. They now sit at 30.1 million bbl, which is four million bbl higher than total levels at this time last year. Higher supplies will help offset potential price spikes in the region if demand increases in the run-up to Labor Day.

Additionally, the impact of Hurricane Lane on Hawaii’s gasoline refining and delivery systems has been minimal. Par Pacific, Hawaii’s largest refinery, closed as a safety precaution over the weekend, but it has since restarted.

Great Lakes and Central

Five states in this region land on this week’s top 10 list of states with the largest changes: Ohio (+10 cents), Michigan (+5 cents), South Dakota (-3 cent), Kansas  (-3 cents) and Missouri (-3 cents). Among the Great Lakes and Central states, gas price averages are as expensive as $2.94 in Michigan, to as cheap as $2.57 in Missouri.

Michigan (-9 cents), South Dakota (-7 cents) and Kentucky (-7 cents) lead the Great Lakes and Central states with the largest decrease in month-over-month prices and rank among the top five states in the country. Ohio (+3 cents) is the only state in the region to be paying more compared to the end of July.

The region had the largest build in gasoline inventory of any in the country adding 1.3 million bbl, according to the EIA. At 53.4 million bbl, inventories are at one of the highest levels of the year for the Great Lakes and Central region.

South and Southeast

With the exception of Oklahoma (+2 cents) and Texas (+1 cent), all South and Southwest states’ gas price averages are cheaper on the week. Florida (-4 cents) and Georgia (-3 cents) saw the biggest drops in the region and both states land on the top 10 list of states with the largest weekly changes.

Gas prices in the region are dropping as demand slips and inventory levels continue to build for three straight weeks. With the addition of half a million bbl, total South and Southeast gasoline inventories sit at 81.5 million bbl – a level not seen since early July. However, the coming weeks could bring major year-over-year surpluses in inventories when compared to last August’s major hurricane activity that shut down regional refineries and pipelines.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas price averages are relatively flat across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. Prices dropped as much as two cents on the week, but only in Tennessee. The majority of states report gas price averages only a penny cheaper since last Monday, except in Vermont ($2.91) and Rhode Island ($2.89) which held steady.

While the national year-over-year difference in gas price averages is nearly 50-cents higher, a handful of Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states are paying more than this average. Motorists in Connecticut (+56 cents), Massachusetts (+54 cents), Delaware (+54 cents), Rhode Island (+53 cents), Vermont (+-52 cents) and New York (+51 cents) are seeing the largest yearly differences in the region.

Similar to pump prices, gasoline inventories in the region remain relatively flat. EIA reports total inventories drew 57,000 bbl. Levels hold steady at one of the lowest points for this summer at 63.2 million bbl.

Rockies

Unlike the majority of the country, gas prices continue to increase for many states in the Rockies. Since the beginning of August, Idaho (+14 cents) and Utah (+12 cents) have seen large jumps in pump prices. Part of the increase can be attributed to local refinery maintenance combined with high tourism season in the region this time of year.

On the week, all states but Montana ($2.94) are paying more at the pump: Wyoming (+4 cents), Colorado (+3 cent), Utah (+3 cents) and Idaho (+2 cents).

Gasoline inventories continue to decrease with the latest EIA data reporting a total of 6.1 million bbl. That is the lowest level on record for the Rockies region since August 2014.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 89 cents to settle at $68.72. A weak dollar contributed to last week’s price gain. Moreover, following the release of EIA’s weekly report that showed total domestic crude inventories fell by 5.8 million bbl during the previous week, crude prices increased. If this week brings a continued decline in crude stocks, crude prices could surpass $70 per barrel.

In related news, according to Baker Hughes, Inc., the U.S. lost nine oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 860. Currently, there are 101 more active rigs than last year at this time.

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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