Posts Tagged ‘Gas Price Commentary’

Has the National Average Peaked for the Year?

August 17th, 2020 by EEdmonds

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Stats

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

Oil Market Dynamics

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

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

Gas Pump Prices Pushing Cheaper, Again

August 10th, 2020 by EEdmonds

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

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

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

Quick Stats

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

 2020 Hurricane Season

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

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

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

Oil Market Dynamics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Stats

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

Oil Market Dynamics

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

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

Gas Demand Sees Significant One-Week Increase

June 29th, 2020 by EEdmonds

On the week, gasoline demand, as estimated by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), increased 10% from 7.8 million bbl to 8.6 million bbl. While the demand rate is much lower than a typical summer reading, it’s the highest recorded since late March showing continued signs that Americans are filling up more.

“The increase in gasoline demand contributed towards the national gas price average’s four cent jump to $2.17. While that average will continue to increase ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend, travelers will find pump prices about 50 cents cheaper than last year’s holiday,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

AAA did not release an Independence Day holiday travel forecast this year, but does forecast that Americans will take 683 million road trips from July 1 – September 30. Before you hit the road for the holiday or a summer trip, AAA recommends:

  • Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – have your engine and oil levels checked.
  • Include an emergency road kit in your vehicle with an extra cell phone charger, first-aid kit, a blanket, flashlight, basic tools, jumper cables, and gloves.
  • Visit AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map at TripTik.AAA.com for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
  • Pack face coverings, cleaning supplies and a thermometer.
  • Take all necessary travel documentation, including health insurance cards.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases: Kentucky (+9 cents), Michigan (+9 cents), West Virginia (+9 cents), North Carolina (+8 cents), Colorado (+8 cents), Indiana (+8 cents), South Carolina (+7 cents), Pennsylvania (+7 cents), Minnesota (+6 cents) and Georgia (+6 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly increases: Colorado (+41 cents), Montana (+35 cents), West Virginia (+28 cents), Kansas (+28 cents), Kentucky (+27 cents), North Dakota (+27 cents), Delaware (+27 cents), South Carolina (+26 cents), Texas (+24 cents) and North Carolina (+24 cents).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states saw fairly large pump price jumps compared to recent weeks with increases ranging from 4 to 9 cents. West Virginia (+9 cents), North Carolina (+8 cents) and Pennsylvania (+7 cents) saw the biggest increases in the region and land on this week’s top 10 largest weekly increases list. All other states saw prices fluctuate between four and eight cents with the exception of New York (+2 cents).

With the exception of Virginia ($1.96), all Mid-Atlantic and Northeast state averages are $2 per gallon or more. Pennsylvania ($2.43) carries the most expensive average in the region and also lands on this week’s respective top 10 most expensive markets list in the country.

Most states in the region saw smaller increases at the pump likely due to the large increase in gasoline stocks, which added 1.3 million bbl, according to EIA data. Regional gasoline stocks sit at 75.4 million bbl. Gas prices are likely to increase for most states in the region, but the tri-states – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – may see smaller jumps due to the requirement that travelers from states with high coronavirus rates quarantine upon arrival.

Rockies

All states in the Rockies region saw gas prices increase, but there was volatility to how expensive they pushed: Colorado (+8 cents), Montana (+5 cents), Wyoming (+4 cents) and Idaho (+2 cents). State gas price averages in the region rank among the most expensive in the country, with Colorado ($2.46) and Idaho ($2.34) landing on this week’s top 10 list.

The larger jumps in pump prices are a little surprising as regional gasoline stocks held steady at 7.3 million bbl and refinery rates increased by 2%. Changes like these typically lead to less volatility, which could be seen in the week ahead.

 West Coast

Pump prices across the West Coast region increased last week, and prices likely are poised for more increases ahead of the holiday weekend. Alaska and Arizona the saw largest increases in the region at +5 cents. Hawaii ($3.18) and California ($3.07) remain the most expensive markets in the country. Washington ($2.72), Nevada ($2.61), Oregon ($2.59), Alaska ($2.48) and Arizona ($2.34) follow.

According to EIA’s latest weekly report, total gas stocks in the region increased slightly from 30.1 million bbl to 30.2 million bbl last week. Increasing stocks, alongside increasing demand, may help to slow pump price increases this week in the region.

South and Southeast

This Independence Day holiday weekend motorists will find the cheapest gas prices in the South and Southeast region. On the week, New Mexico ($2.01) and Florida ($2.02) are the only states in the region with an average greater than $2 per gallon and to see increases less than a nickel. Pump prices jumped as much as nine cents for all other states in the region on the week.

Stocks saw a minimal draw of 700,000 bbl to push total stock levels to 90.1 million bbl. The region could see a large draw next week, following the holiday weekend, which could cause gas prices to increase ahead of the holiday. However, gas demand could decrease in states in the region that see an increase in coronavirus infections, which could delay reopening plans.  

Great Lakes and Central States

It was a volatile week at the pump across the Great Lakes and Central States. Kentucky (+9 cents), Michigan (+9 cents) and Minnesota (+6 cents) saw the largest increases in the region and land on the top 10 list for largest weekly jumps in the country.

Gasoline stocks in the region saw a substantial 1.9 million bbl draw, which is one reason for the fluctuation in gas prices. However, refinery rates saw the largest increase, at 7%, of any region in the country, according to EIA data, which could lead to a build in stocks in the agency’s next report and smaller increases at the pump.

Oil Market Dynamics

 At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI decreased by 23 cents to settle at $38.49 per barrel. Domestic crude prices pushed cheaper last week due to an increase in new coronavirus infections worldwide, which could suppress crude demand if stay at home orders increase. For this week, crude prices could continue to decline if the market continues to worry that efforts to stimulate the global economy will falter because of uncontained outbreaks.

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.

Nearly every state’s gas price average is cheaper than a week ago, a month ago and a year ago. Today’s national average is $2.74, which is seven-cents cheaper than last week, 13-cents less than a month ago and 18 cents cheaper than a year ago.

“Refinery utilization in the United States is at its highest level since early January, resulting in overall gasoline stocks at healthy levels to meet robust summer demand. Prices are dropping due to cheaper crude oil and at the same time U.S. supply is keeping pace with demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The national average is poised to fall to at least $2.70 this week – an indication that pump prices may be even cheaper this summer.”

For the last three weeks demand has remained relatively robust at 9.4 million b/d. Meanwhile, gasoline stocks have increased weekly with total inventories at nearly 4 million bbl ahead of the five-year average, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly decreases are: Ohio (-21 cents), Indiana (-17 cents), Michigan (-15 cents), Illinois (-11 cents), Kentucky (-10 cents), Oklahoma (-9 cents), Maine (-8 cents), Wisconsin (-8 cents), Nebraska (-8 cents) and South Carolina (-7 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.32), Louisiana ($2.35), Alabama ($2.35), South Carolina ($2.36), Arkansas ($2.40), Texas ($2.41), Tennessee ($2.42), Oklahoma ($2.46), Missouri ($2.48) and Virginia ($2.49).  

Great Lakes and Central States

On the week, the top five states in the country with the largest declines hail from the Great Lakes and Central region: Ohio (-21 cents), Indiana (-17 cents), Michigan (-15 cents), Illinois (-11 cents), and Kentucky (-10 cents). Joining these five to round out the top 10 list are Wisconsin and Nebraska with eight-cent declines at the pump. Gas prices are cheaper across the region and range from $2.89 in Illinois – which is the 13th most expensive state average in the country – to $2.49 in Missouri, which is the ninth cheapest state average in the country.

Gas prices dropped alongside a build in gasoline stocks. According to EIA data the region saw inventory build by 300,000 bbl to total 48.1 million bbl, which is below the five-year average of 50.8 million. Refinery utilization slid back a percent to 83% and is the lowest utilization rate for the week ending May 31 among all five regions in the country. Despite the deficit in stocks and low refinery utilization rate, gas prices are expected to remain stable; though during the summer, some states may see weekly spikes – declines or increases – due to the typical volatility in the region.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

A number of states from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast appear on the top 10 list for largest changes for the week, month and year:

  • Weekly: Maine (-8 cents)
  • Monthly: North Carolina (-17 cents), Tennessee (-16 cents) and Delaware (-16 cents)
  • Yearly: Delaware (-26 cents), Tennessee (-25 cents) and New Hampshire (-25 cents)

Driving through the region, motorists will find gas prices on average at $2.65 with the most expensive at $2.89 in Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut. The cheapest price is $2.42 in Tennessee.

Gas price declines this week were supported by a sizeable build in gasoline stocks – nearly 1.9 million bbl, bumping total inventories to 65.1 million bbl. In addition, regional utilization pushed up for a second week to nearly 94%. These moves will help to keep gas prices stable, but more likely will push them cheaper in the month ahead.

Rockies

Gas prices are cheaper on the week across the Rockies with the region seeing among the smallest weekly changes in the country. Motorists in Wyoming ($2.85) saw no change at the pump, while those in Utah ($3.13), Colorado ($2.82), Montana ($2.87) and Idaho ($3.15) are paying 2 to 4 cents less a gallon to fill-up.

Compared to last month, gas prices are cheaper in Utah, Colorado and Idaho by as much as four cents. Conversely, they are more expensive only in Montana (+1 cent) and Wyoming (+8 cents).

The region is poised to see gas prices continue to decline. The EIA reports that regional refinery utilization is at 99% – the highest of any in the country. As utilization jumped so did stocks – by half a million bbl for the week ending May 31. Total stocks measure at 7.2 million bbl, which is a very healthy level compared to last summer, which mostly saw stocks hover at, but mostly below the 7-million bbl mark.

South and Southeast

Florida (+2 cents) was the only state in the region and country to see gas prices increase on the week. Meanwhile, seven South and Southeast states saw pump prices drop a nickel or more since last Monday: Oklahoma (-9 cents), South Carolina (-7 cents), Texas (-7 cents), Mississippi (-7 cents), Arkansas (-6 cents), Georgia (-6 cents) and New Mexico (-5 cents).

As the region continues to carry among the cheapest gas price averages in the country, every state’s average is cheaper by at least a dime compared to last month. The region also touts some of the largest monthly decreases in the country. Georgia (-18 cents), Texas (-17 cents), Louisiana (-15 cents), (Florida (-15 cents) and South Carolina (-15 cents) rank among the top 10 states with the biggest change in pump prices compared to last month.

As refinery utilization held steady on the week, regional stocks drew by 1.8 million bbl and dropped total stocks to 82.8 million bbl. While the draw was large, inventories sit ahead of this time last year and are the largest level for this time of year (early June) on record for the region, per EIA data. Motorists in the region can expect to see even cheaper gas prices throughout the summer.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are the highest in the nation, with all seven states landing on the top 10 most expensive list today. California ($3.88) and Hawaii ($3.64) are the most expensive markets. Washington ($3.46), Alaska ($3.44), Nevada ($3.45), Oregon ($3.33) and Arizona ($3.07) follow. Pump prices in the region have mostly decreased on the week, with Oregon (-7 cents) seeing the largest drop.

The EIA’s recent report for the week ending on May 31 showed that West Coast gasoline stocks increased by approximately 2.4 million bbl from the previous week and now sit at 30.8 million bbl. The current level is only 300,000 bbl less than last year’s level at this time, which could cause prices to decline further if there are no supply disruptions in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased by $1.40 to settle at $53.99. Crude prices increased on Friday after Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told an audience at a conference in Russia that OPEC and its partners are close to an agreement to extend their current 1.2-million b/d production reduction pact through the end of 2019. The cartel is expected to formally announce its decision at its upcoming meeting in Vienna on June 25 and 26.

The price increase followed a week of losses for crude due to EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showing that total domestic crude inventories rose by 6.8 million bbl last week. At 483.3 million bbl, the current level is 46.7 million bbl higher than last year’s level at this time. An oversupply of crude has increased concerns that the market has a glut of oil – even as U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela have worked to reduce global supply. Market observers will await OPEC’s meeting to determine how much global crude supplies may tighten further. If the glut persists, crude prices will likely continue to descend.

In related news, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost 11 oilrigs last week, bringing the total of active rigs to 789. There are 73 fewer oilrigs now than at this time last 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.

 

AAA Forecasts Summer National Gas Price Average to Drop to $2.70

Price at which 50% of consumers consider gas price to be too high (2016 – 2019), per AAA’s Annual Gas Price
2016 2017 2018 2019
$2.50 $2.80 $2.70 $3.00

“For consumers today, paying more to fill-up their gas tank may feel less shocking due to the national average pushing within pennies of $3/gallon the last two spring seasons,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.  “However, there is good news for consumers this summer – the highest prices of the year could be in the rearview mirror. With most refineries operating at normal levels, demand at robust rates, and cheaper crude oil prices, summer gas prices are poised to be a little less than last year –dropping as much as a dime to lower the national average to $2.70.”

Even with Americans being more tolerant of higher gas prices, you can still expect 74% of Americans to make lifestyle changes to offset increased pump prices. Of those, nearly a quarter (24 percent) say $2.75 – a price consumers will see for sure at the pump this summer — as the price that would push them toward changing habits or choices, including:

  1. Combining errands or trips – 65% (down from 79% in 2018)
  2. Driving less – 60% (down from 73% in 2018)
  3. Reducing shopping or dining out – 49% (down from 61% in 2018)
  4. Delaying major purchases – 43% (down from 50% in 2018)
  5. Driving a more fuel efficient vehicle – 35% (down from 46% in 2018)

Crude + Demand Factors

This year, the most expensive West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices, which AAA tracks to understand impact on pump prices, have ranged between $65 and $66/bbl. Most recently WTI crude fell as low as $53/bbl. That is cheaper than last summer when prices ranged between $65 and $73 per barrel – with most daily prices hovering just under $70 per barrel. Historically, crude oil prices and domestic gasoline demand have determined the price Americans pay at the pump in the summer months. And, that’s no different this summer.

Crude Analysis: The International Energy Agency noted in its May 2019 Oil Markets Report that global crude supply decreased as a result of reduced exports from Canada, Iran and other major crude exporters. If the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners, including Russia, decide to extend their current production reduction agreement of 1.2 million b/d through the end of 2019, that would further tighten the global crude market.  OPEC extending its agreement will also likely lead to increased crude prices that would increase the price of gasoline around the world. It could also entice U.S. crude producers to export more crude, which could tighten supplies in the U.S. and raise retail prices at home. OPEC and its partners will meet on June 25 and 26 in Vienna, where they are expected to announce if the agreement will remain in effect.

Demand Forecast: For domestic gasoline demand, summer 2019 has been forecasted to reach some of the highest levels on record in the U.S. Meanwhile, domestic gasoline stocks are at their lowest level going into June since 2016. If demand rises while gasoline stocks remain low, pump prices could see modest increases, especially if supply is tight in local markets. On the other hand, gas demand could fall, as we’ve seen in recent weeks due to inclement weather from the Rockies to the Midwest and South. Moreover, the added threat of a major hurricane making landfall could also impact demand, which could suppress pump prices.

In its 2019 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said that warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, ongoing El Nino conditions, and an enhanced West African monsoon could produce nine to 15 named storms – including four to eight hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The mere threat of a hurricane, especially one that threatens the shutdown of Gulf Coast refineries, can dramatically impact the price of crude and gasoline until normal operations resume.

“The price of crude is a driving factor when it comes to retail gasoline prices, accounting for nearly 60% of the price motorists see at the pump year-round. While crude prices have been cheaper this year, AAA is monitoring a number of circumstances that could cause crude oil market prices to increase. This includes reductions in global and domestic crude supply, exports, and U.S. gasoline demand.”

As Americans settle into summer, many outliers could pave the way for unexpected price bumps, so stayed tuned. Motorists can always find the latest national and state gas price averages and trends at GasPrices.AAA.com.

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.

Today’s national average is $2.81, which is two cents cheaper than last week, eight cents less than last month and 13 cents less than last year. With the exception of the Rockies states, Alaska and Indiana, motorists across the country are saving as much as 23 cents/gallon to fill up as compared to last month.

“Gas prices have been trending lower now for the past month and there are no signs of pump prices changing gears toward more expensive for the summer season,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “One major indicator supporting this forecast is the price of crude oil which last week dropped by $6 to $53/bbl, which is one of the lowest prices of the year.”

How low will gas prices go? Stay tuned for AAA’s 2019 summer forecast, which will be released later this week.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.39), Louisiana ($2.39), Alabama ($2.41), South Carolina ($2.43), Arkansas ($2.46), Texas ($2.48), Tennessee ($2.48), Missouri ($2.53), Virginia ($2.54) and Oklahoma ($2.55).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly decreases are: Florida (-23 cents), Delaware (-16 cents), Georgia (-15 cents), California (-14 cents), North Carolina (-14 cents), Louisiana (-13 cents), Mississippi (-13 cents), Texas (-13 cents), Tennessee (-12 cents) and South Carolina (-11 cents).

Great Lakes and Central States

There is some volatility at the pump across the Great Lakes and Central states with eight states seeing gas prices increase since last Monday, a trend recently only seen among West Coast and a few Rockies states. On the week, Ohio (+11 cents) saw the largest increase in the country and region, followed by: Illinois (+3 cents), Nebraska (+2 cents), Iowa (+2 cents), Kansas (+1 cent), Missouri (+1 cent), Indiana (+1 cent) and North Dakota (+1 cent). These states are seeing pump prices push hire in part due to regional refinery maintenance. For the five other regional states, their averages all held steady on the week, but that could quickly change to increases in the week ahead if refinery maintenance drags on.

In the region, Illinois ($3.00) carries the largest average followed by Michigan ($2.88).

Gasoline stocks added a half a million bbl on the week to push totals up to 47.8 million bbl while regional refinery utilization increased 2% to 84%, per the Energy Information Administration (EIA). A continued positive upward trend in utilization would ultimately mean moderate to strong builds in gasoline that would translate to fewer increases at the pump. Currently, stocks are tight sitting at their lowest level of the year, which is not a favorable position during the peak-driving season.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Pump prices continue to push lower among all Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states and for a second week, all state averages are under $3/gallon. Pennsylvania ($2.95), Connecticut ($2.94), New York ($2.92) and Washington, D.C. ($2.89) carry the most expensive gas prices in the region. On the week, Delaware (-6 cents), Maryland (-5 cents), Tennessee (-4 cents) and Pennsylvania (-3 cents) saw the largest declines in the region and land on the top 10 list of largest changes in the country.

On the month and on the year, gas prices are cheaper for every state in the region.

The latest EIA data shows a half a million bbl draw for the week ending May 24, but stocks continue to measure above the 63 million bbl mark. The small draw helped to push gas prices lower in the region. However, stocks sits at a 1.5 million bbl deficit year-over-year and the lowest level for the end of May since 2015. The positive news is that regional refinery utilization jumped 4% to 92%, which could translate into gasoline stock builds in the coming weeks.

Rockies

Motorists in the Rockies region are starting to see gas prices remain mostly stable. On the week pump price changes were moderate with Wyoming (+2 cents) and Montana (+1 cent) seeing increases while Utah and Idaho saw declines at two cents each. Colorado held steady at $2.86.

Compared to a month ago, gas prices are as much as a dime more expensive in the region, although compared to this time last year gas prices are mostly cheaper: Montana (-6 cents), Wyoming (-6 cent) and Colorado (-4 cents). At $2.18, Idaho’s average is the same year-over-year while Utah’s (+2 cents) year-over-year difference is just a few pennies more.

Gasoline stocks built by about 300,000 bbl to bump total stocks up to 6.7 million bbl on the week. This was supported by regional refinery utilization hitting 96%, which is the highest utilization rate for the end of May since 2014 and the highest in the country according to EIA data for the week ending May 24. For motorists, this strong utilization rate could mean gas price stability for at least the coming weeks.

South and Southeast

Gas prices across the South and Southeast states are among the cheapest in the country selling, on average, for $2.57 or less, with the exception of New Mexico ($2.69). The states with the cheapest averages in the region and the county are: Mississippi ($2.39), Louisiana ($2.39), Alabama ($2.41), South Carolina ($2.43), Arkansas ($2.46), Texas ($2.48) and Oklahoma ($2.55).

On the week, Texas (-5 cents), Georgia (-4 cents) and Louisiana (-4 cents) saw the largest pump price drops in the region. Following behind are Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina with gas price declines of three cents since last Monday. All other states saw smaller declines or averages held steady.

The region continues to see declines at the pump thanks to a steady build of gasoline stocks, which increased by 1.2 million bbl according to the latest EIA data. With refinery utilization at 95% and stocks totaling 84.7 million bbl — a nearly 6 million bbl year-over-year surplus — motorists in the South and Southeast can expect gas prices to push lower in the coming weeks.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying the highest pump prices in the nation, with all seven states landing on the top 10 most expensive list today. California ($3.94) and Hawaii ($3.64) are the most expensive markets. Washington ($3.52), Alaska ($3.49), Nevada ($3.46), Oregon ($3.40) and Arizona ($3.11) follow. Pump prices in the region have mostly decreased on the week, with California (-6 cents) seeing the largest drop.

The EIA’s recent report for the week ending on May 24 showed that West Coast gasoline stocks increased by approximately 700,000 bbl from the previous week and now sit at 28.4 million bbl. The current level is nearly 3 million bbl less than last year’s level at this time, which could cause prices to see moderate increases if there are any supply challenges in the region this week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI fell by $3.09 to $53.50. Crude prices suffered a major loss last week, the largest in six months, after new trade tensions emerged between the U.S. and Mexico, a key U.S. trade partner and a major supplier of crude oil. Threats from the Trump Administration to increase tariffs on all products exported from Mexico to the U.S, including crude compound concerns about global economic growth, already at risk due to the U.S.-China trade war. That dispute has prompted market observers to worry about a recession, which could suppress global crude demand later this year. Moving into this week, growing global trade war fears will likely push crude prices down.

In related news, EIA reported that crude stocks were mostly flat on the week. Total domestic crude inventories are holding steady at 476.5 million bbl. Additionally, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. gained three oil rigs last week. There are currently 800 active rigs, which is 61 fewer rigs now 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.

For the 37.6 million Americans who hit the road this past Memorial Day weekend, the vast majority found savings at the pump compared to last year’s holiday. Today, 42 states and Washington, D.C. have gas price averages that are less expensive year-over-year, with Floridians (-31 cents) seeing the largest yearly change. Motorists in West Coast states are the exception, paying nearly double-digits more than last May to fill up.

“Gas prices have declined, on average, by at least a nickel, for the majority of the country since the beginning of May and that’s a trend motorists can expect to continue into early June,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Stable crude oil prices are helping to push prices down at the pump despite tight domestic gasoline supply and robust demand. A bump in demand could push prices higher, but only by a few cents.”

Today’s national average is $2.82, which is cheaper than last week by two cents, last month by six cents and last year by 16 cents.

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 yearly decreases are: Florida (-31 cents), Delaware (-28 cents), New Mexico (-27 cents), Kentucky (-25 cents), Texas (-24 cents), Louisiana (-24 cents), Georgia (-24 cents), Mississippi (-23 cents), Alabama (-23 cents) and Michigan (-22 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.42), Louisiana ($2.43), Alabama ($2.43), South Carolina ($2.46), Arkansas ($2.48), Missouri ($2.52), Tennessee ($2.52), Texas ($2.52), Oklahoma ($2.55) and Virginia ($2.56).

South and Southeast

Seven South and Southeast states make the top 10 list for largest yearly savings at the pump: Florida (-31 cents), New Mexico (-27 cents), Louisiana (-24 cents), Texas (-24 cents), Georgia (-24 cents), Mississippi (-23 cents), and Alabama (-23 cents). In the region, Oklahomans are seeing the smallest year-over-year gas price change at -14 cents.

On the week, gas prices are cheaper across the region. South Carolina was the outlier again, seeing a one cent jump since last week. State gas price averages range from $2.60 in Georgia to $2.42 in Mississippi.

With a build of 514,000 bbl, stocks are at their highest level – 83 million bbl – for the region in two months. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) report for the week ending May 17 shows refinery utilization holding steady at the 94% level. Steady utilization and increasing stocks are helping to push prices cheaper for motorists in the region.

Great Lakes and Central States

At a penny, Michigan and Indiana saw the only gas pump jumps on the week in the Great Lakes and Central States. Ohio (-7 cents), Nebraska (-4 cents), Kentucky (-3 cents) and Missouri (-2 cents) saw the largest declines at the pump with the remaining states’ averages declining a penny or holding steady on the week.

Regional stocks declined by 2 million bbl, per the EIA’s latest data, to drop levels to 47.3 million bbl. A large draw like this, especially amid very tight gasoline stock levels, may push gas prices more expensive in the coming days and weeks ahead. Year-over-year, regional stocks sit at a 5.2 million bbl deficit.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas prices continue to trend cheaper across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, with all averages now under $3/gallon. Though, at $2.98 Pennsylvania ranks as the tenth most expensive state in the country and the most expensive in the region. On the week, declines were modest. North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Maryland saw the largest declines in the region at three cents.

Year-over-year, Delaware (-28 cents) carries the largest change in the region followed by Maryland (-22 cents), Tennessee (-20 cents) and North Carolina (-20 cents).

EIA’s latest data shows the region saw a significant build in stocks – 3.8 million bbl – to total 63.7 million. The increase was much needed and helped cut the year-over-year deficit in half, now only sitting at 1.6 million bbl less than this time last year. To keep gas prices decreasing and/or stable, stocks will need to continue to build.

Rockies

With a two-cent increase, Wyoming saw the largest weekly jump at the pump in both the region and the country. Montana saw prices increase as well, but only by a penny. For the first time in more than a month, Utah (-2 cent) saw gas prices decrease while Idaho’s ($3.20) remained stable on the week. 

While motorists in the region are seeing small jumps and declines, compared to a month ago, pump prices are more expensive for the majority: Utah (+24 cents), Idaho (+19 cents), Wyoming (+11 cents), Colorado (+9 cents) and Montana (+5 cents).

At 6.4 million bbl, gasoline stocks in the region increased by just 100,000 bbl, which is the first build seen in a few weeks, according to EIA data. The bump, though very minimal, helped to keep gas prices mostly stable on the week.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying the highest pump prices in the nation, with all seven states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list today. California ($3.99) and Hawaii ($3.64) are the most expensive markets. Washington ($3.53), Nevada ($3.47), Alaska ($3.48), Oregon ($3.42) and Arizona ($3.13) follow. Prices in the region have seen mostly modest decreases on the week, with Alaska (+2 cents) seeing the largest jump and California (-4 cents) seeing the largest decline.

The EIA’s recent weekly report for the week ending on May 17 showed that West Coast gasoline stocks grew significantly by 1.3 million bbl from the previous week and now sit at 27.7 million bbl. The current level is 2.5 million bbl less than last year’s level at this time. The West Coast may see continued price volatility, as a result of tight stocks in the region, increasing pump prices for motorists in the region.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased by 72 cents to settle at $58.63. Overall, crude prices saw a loss last week, following release of EIA’s weekly petroleum status report that showed total domestic crude inventories rose by 4.8 million bbl. At 476.8 million bbl, the current level is the highest since July 2017. Ample crude supplies and increased production, which hit a record high of 12.2 million b/d last week, has increased market expectations that supply tightening due to OPEC’s production reduction agreement and reduced crude exports from Iran and Venezuela may be overcome by increased export prowess as a result of the nation’s growing domestic crude supply. Market observers will await OPEC’s meeting on June 25 and 26 in Vienna, where the cartel will likely decide to extend the agreement it has in place with its partners for the remainder of 2019, to determine how much global crude supplies may tighten further.

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 are as much as six cents cheaper in some states across the country on the week, which has pushed the national gas price average cheaper by a penny to $2.85 today. That average could have been even lower had a handful of Midwest states not seen prices increase by more than a nickel due to ongoing refinery maintenance.

“Gas prices are getting cheaper for the majority of motorists despite the fact that U.S. gasoline stocks sit at a 7 million bbl deficit year-over-year. Crude oil prices have remained relatively stable the past few months, which is one reason helping gas prices be cheaper than last year at this time,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Today, motorists can find gas for $2.50 or less at nearly half of all gas stations in the country.”

Compared to last month, today’s national average ($2.85) is cheaper by a penny and is seven cents cheaper year-over-year.

 

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Ohio (+11 cents), Michigan (+7 cents), Florida (-7 cents), Illinois (-5 cents), North Carolina (-4 cents), South Carolina (-4 cents), Delaware (-4 cents), Mississippi (-4 cents), Indiana (+3 cents) and Georgia (-3 cents).
  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Louisiana ($2.45), South Carolina ($2.45), Alabama ($2.45), Mississippi ($2.45), Arkansas ($2.50), Tennessee ($2.54), Missouri ($2.54), Oklahoma ($2.56), Texas ($2.57) and Kansas ($2.58).

Great Lakes and Central States

Amid refinery maintenance, gasoline stocks dropped by 700,000 bbl, squeezing total levels to 49.4 million bbl, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is not only the lowest level of the year, but a stock level historically only recorded in the second half of the year for the region and certainly not a level seen going into peak driving season. The draw was one of the reasons three states in the region were among the top five weekly increases in gas prices in the country: Ohio (+11 cents), Michigan (+7 cents) and Indiana (+3 cents). These jumps mostly wiped up any decreases seen last week for these three states.  All other states in the Great Lakes and Central States saw pump prices decline by as much as a nickel on the week.

Illinois ($2.97) remains the most expensive price in the region followed by Indiana ($2.84) and Michigan ($2.83). Missouri ($2.54) and Kansas ($2.58) carry the cheapest.

As previously reported, the region averages stock levels around 52 million bbl ahead of Memorial Day. With levels facing a 2.6 million bbl deficit, motorists should not be surprised if gas prices inch up this month, especially as refinery utilization remains under 90%.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

On the week, gas prices are cheaper across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states ranging from $3.00 in Pennsylvania to $2.54 in Tennessee. With a four cent decrease, Delaware and North Carolina saw the largest decreases in the region and rank among the top 10 weekly changes in the country.

Looking at prices compared to last month, the region has states appearing on both the top 10 list for the smallest and largest monthly changes in the country. The states with the largest changes in the last month are Rhode Island (+12 cents) and Massachusetts (+11 cents). While the states with the smallest changes in pump prices are Maryland (no change), Virginia (+1 cent), Washington, D.C. (no change) and West Virginia (no change). However, some states have prices cheaper month-over-month: Tennessee (-6 cents) and North Carolina (-4 cents).

Motorists paid less to fill up this past week as gasoline stocks drew by 700,000 bbl, but that might not be the case for long. The EIA reports total stocks measure at 59.9 million bbl, which is a 3.3 million bbl deficit compared to last year at this time. A bump in refinery utilization could help to plump up stock levels to keep gas prices stable.

South and Southeast

South and Southeast states are seeing some of the largest decreases in the country on the week with Florida (-7 cents), South Carolina (-4 cents), Mississippi (-4 cents) and Georgia (-3 cents) ranking among the largest pump price declines. With cheaper gas prices trending across the in the region, motorists can find gas for $2.50 or less at 49% of gas stations in South and Southeast states.

Compared to a month ago, gas prices are cheaper in all 10 South and Southeast states: Florida (-11 cents), Louisiana (-8 cents), South Carolina (-8 cents), Mississippi (-6 cents), Alabama (-5 cents), Oklahoma (-4 cents), Georgia (-4 cents), New Mexico (-3 cents) and Arkansas (-3 cent). Texas ($2.57) average is the same year-over-year.

Pump prices declined as gasoline stocks built by 1.5 million bbl in the region, which was the only in the country to see an increase. At 82.9 million bbl and a 94% regional refinery utilization, reported by the EIA, motorists in the South and Southeast can expect gas prices to trend stable if not cheaper in the week ahead. However, a small spike ahead of Memorial Day Weekend is not out of the question.

Rockies

While gas prices are more expensive on the week in Utah and Idaho, for the first time in weeks, none of these states landed on the top 10 list for largest weekly changes in the country. More so, gas prices increased by only two cents in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, while Colorado ($2.84) and Montana ($2.86) prices held steady since last Monday. However, with a state average of $3.20 in Idaho and $3.19 in Utah, these states carry among the top 10 pump prices in the country.

Gasoline stocks in the Rockies region drew by 400,000 bbl to total levels at 6.3 million bbl. The draw might have been larger had regional refinery utilization not jumped by 10% to 93%. The increase in utilization helped to keep prices mostly stable despite gasoline stock levels not sitting this low since September 2017. Stock levels and utilization will be major factors determining the movement of gas prices in coming weeks, which is likely to trend more expensive.

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are the highest in the nation, with all seven states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list today. California ($4.04) and Hawaii ($3.64) are the most expensive markets. Washington ($3.54), Nevada ($3.49), Alaska ($3.46), Oregon ($3.43) and Arizona ($3.14) follow. Prices in the region have seen mostly modest increases on the week, with Alaska (+2 cents) seeing the largest jump and California (-3 cents) seeing the largest decline.

The EIA’s recent weekly report for the week ending on May 10 showed that West Coast gasoline stocks fell again by approximately 700,000 bbl from the previous week and now sit at 26.4 million bbl. The current level is 3.3 million bbl less than last year’s level at this time. The West Coast may see continued price volatility and shrinking gasoline stocks this week, increasing pump prices for motorists in the region.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped 11 cents to settle at $62.76. Crude prices increased last week due to rising global tensions that saw attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and on a Saudi Arabian oil pipeline. Those attacks only increased supply concerns that have been building due to the United States taking a tough line on sanctions against Iran and unrest in Venezuela and Libya leading to disruptions of supplies from those countries.

Crude prices will likely continue their ascent this week after OPEC and its partners met over the weekend to discuss compliance with the group’s 1.2 million b/d production reduction agreement that has been in place since January 2019. The group will formally decide if it will keep the agreement in place beyond June at next month’s meeting, but after this weekend’s compliance meeting, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that there was consensus among participants to continue to drive down crude inventories for the remainder of the year.

In related news, EIA’s weekly petroleum report revealed that total domestic crude inventories increased by 5.4 million bbl to 472 million bbl. The current level is 39.7 million bbl more than last year at this time. Moreover, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost three rigs last week, bringing the total to 802, which is 42 fewer 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.

Gas prices are declining slowly but steadily across the country, pushing the national average down three cents on the week to $2.86. Today’s average is four cents cheaper than last month and the same price as one year ago. In fact, 25 states have gas price averages that are just a nickel or less expensive than this time last year.

Gas prices are decreasing despite the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest reports which show an increase in demand to summer-like levels and a decrease in gasoline stocks. The move to cheaper gas prices indicates that demand and supply are potentially leveling out.

“This is the first time in three months gas prices have shown consistent signs of declining,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “However, there are many factors that could quickly push up prices in the coming weeks, including the impact of Chinese tariffs, weather, a major draw in gasoline stock levels, a spike in demand or the volume of Memorial Day weekend travel.  Pump price movements this week will indicate if motorists will continue to see cheaper gas prices or if this was just a one-week fad.”

Quick Stats

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.48), Louisiana ($2.49), Mississippi ($2.49), South Carolina ($2.49), Arkansas ($2.53) Oklahoma ($2.57), Texas ($2.57), Tennessee ($2.57), Missouri ($2.58) and Virginia ($2.61).
  • The nation’s top 10 yearly changes are: California (+38 cents), Arizona (+20 cents), Nevada (+20 cents), Ohio (-18 cents), Delaware (-16 cents), Washington (+15 cents), Oregon (+14 cents), Kentucky (-14 cents), Michigan (-12 cents) and Alaska (+11 cents).

Great Lakes and Central States

On the week, all but one Great Lakes and Central region states saw gas prices decrease or stabilize with Ohio (-12 cents), Michigan (-10 cents) and Indiana (-9 cents) seeing the largest declines at a dime or more. These three states lead the region and country for the largest weekly pump price changes. With a four cent decrease, Iowa and Kentucky round out the top 10 list of all states with the largest weekly changes.  Illinois (+1 cent) was the only state in the region to see prices increase on the week and also carries the most expensive average at $3.02.

A handful of states in the region are also paying less to fill-up year-over-year. Motorists in Ohio   (-18 cents) are seeing the largest yearly difference followed by Kentucky (-14 cents), Michigan (-12 cents), Iowa (-9 cents) and Mississippi (-7 cents).

Gas prices trended cheaper this week as refinery utilization increased to 87.6% and gasoline stocks drew by about 500,000 bbl per EIA’s latest weekly reports. Total stocks continue to trend above the 50 million bbl level, which is about a 5 million bbl deficit year-over-year. However, should utilization continue to increase and hit/stay above the 90% mark, stocks could build to a stronger level that would allow gas prices to stabilize even more. Typically ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the region has recorded stock levels around 52 million bbl.

West Coast

Motorists in the West Coast region are paying the highest pump prices in the nation, with all seven states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. California ($4.07) and Hawaii ($3.63) are the most expensive markets. Washington ($3.53), Nevada ($3.49), Alaska ($3.44), Oregon ($3.42) and Arizona ($3.15) follow. Prices in the region have seen modest increases and decreases on the week, with California (-2 cents) seeing the largest decline and Alaska (+3 cents) seeing the largest increase.

The EIA’s recent weekly report for the week ending on May 3 showed that West Coast gasoline stocks fell again by approximately 400,000 bbl from the previous week and now sit at 27.1 million bbl. The West Coast may see continued price volatility and shrinking gasoline stocks this week, which will likely lead to more increases at the pump due to ongoing refinery maintenance that pushed prices over $4/gal in April.

Rockies

Gas prices range from $3.18 (Idaho) to $2.77 (Wyoming) across the Rockies region. Every state saw pump prices increase since last Monday with Utah (+7 cents) and Idaho (+6 cents) having the largest gains both in the region and the country.

Motorists are accustomed to seeing prices increase around this time of year, but are likely having sticker shock when they consider how much more prices are compared to last month: Utah (+57 cents), Idaho (+46 cents), Colorado (+20 cents), Montana (+18 cents) and Wyoming (+18 cents). All states rank among the top 12 with largest monthly changes in the country. Utah and Idaho top the nation’s rankings in that category.

Prices are not likely to get cheaper any time soon. Regional refinery utilization wiped out the prior week’s gains falling 4% to 83%, according to EIA data for the week ending May 3. Stocks drew, dropping regional totals below the 7 million bbl mark. At 6.7 million bbl, this is the first time the first week of May has seen levels this low since May 2015, when stocks were 6.8 million bbl

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

All states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region have cheaper, if not the same, gas prices as this time last year. Motorists in Delaware ($2.69) are seeing the most significant savings with the average being 16 cents cheaper year-over-year. This is the exception as most state’s averages are only as much as a nickel less to fill-up on the year.

On the week, all states are paying less at the pump with prices as much as six cents cheaper than last Monday. Pennsylvania ($3.02) carries the most expensive and Tennessee ($2.57) carries the least expensive in the region.  With a nearly 1.1 million bbl build, gasoline stock levels for the region measure at the 60.6 million bbl mark. EIA data reports this is the highest level since the end of March. The build, which was due in part to imports, helped to stabilize prices in the region on the week as regional refinery utilization plummeted from 92.5 to 83.9%. Refinery reports show that unplanned and planned maintenance is wrapping up, which should help to push utilization back up in coming weeks.

South and Southeast

Gas prices are as much as six cents cheaper on the week for all states in the South and Southeast region. Motorists in Florida (-7 cents) saw the largest decrease followed by South Carolina and Georgia – both which saw a four cent decrease. In the region, gas prices range from $2.70 – $2.48.

All 10 states in the region have cheaper year-over-year gas price averages. Some averages are at or trending close to a double-digit difference compared to a year ago: Florida (-11 cents), Alabama (-9 cents), New Mexico (-9 cents), Louisiana (-8 cents), Texas (-8 cents) and South Carolina (-8 cents).

Gasoline stocks drew, but only by about 500,000 million bbl, to bring the region’s total to 81.4 million bbl. The EIA reports this is the largest stock level of any region in the United States for the week ending May 3. In addition, this level is the highest seen regionally for the first week of May since 2016. Should stocks remain at/or above this level, motorists will likely see moderate fluctuation in pump prices for the next week or two. However, severe weather along the Texas coast at the end of last week caused issues at some refineries, but specifics were not available at the time this report was published. This could negatively impact refinery utilization in the coming week.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased four cents to settle at $61.66. On the week, crude prices have moved lower because of global concerns around trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. This plus reports that two Saudi oil tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz are likely to keep prices volatile this week. In related news, this week’s EIA petroleum status report revealed that crude stocks fell by 4 million bbl to 466.6 million bbl last week. While the new level is 32.8 million bbl lower than the level at this time in spring 2018, the step back is a reversal from the previous week that saw crude inventories climb by 10 million bbl. Contributing to the recent reduction in total domestic crude inventories was a slight reduction in domestic crude production to 12.2 million b/d and a drop in crude imports from 7.4 million b/d to 6.7 million b/d. The reduction in crude inventories occurred despite crude exports falling last week from 2.6 million b/d to 2.3 million b/d. In related news, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. lost two oil rigs last week, bringing the country’s total to 805. When compared to this time in 2018, there are 39 fewer rigs now.

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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