National gas prices have remained flat, fluctuating by only a couple of pennies for the last 27 days. Today’s average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.29 per gallon, which is the same price as one week ago, same price as compared to one month ago and 55 cents more than the same date last year. In mid-March, prices will likely rise as more refiners begin to switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline and driver demand increases.
- The nation’s top five least expensive markets are: South Carolina ($2.03), Alabama ($2.06), Tennessee ($2.07), Mississippi ($2.08) and Texas ($2.08).
- The nation’s top five most expensive markets include: Hawaii ($3.10), California ($2.94), Washington ($2.75), Alaska ($2.74) and Nevada ($2.57).
- The nation’s top five markets with the most dramatic weekly changes in prices include: Indiana (-10 cents), Utah (+7 cents), Ohio (+7 cents), Michigan (+5 cents) and Idaho (+5 cents).
Hawaii ($3.10) remains the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline and drivers in the state are paying 16 cents more per gallon than second-place California ($2.94). Regional neighbors, Washington ($2.75), Alaska ($2.74), Nevada ($2.57) and Oregon ($2.56) join in the rankings as the top six most expensive markets for gas. Tight supply in the region has pressured prices higher in most states. The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that West Coast gasoline inventories dropped 600,000 bbl to 30.5 million bbl. Last week, OPIS reports that PBF Energy’s Torrance refinery experienced a fire while Tesoro also reported problems at its Wilmington refinery, which has been undergoing planned maintenance since January.
Prices in the region remain stable on the week with the exception of Utah (+7 cents) and Idaho (+5 cents) which both saw sizable increases. Plains All American Pipeline reports that the Wahsatch Pipeline — which receives crude oil from locations near Evanston, Wyoming, and delivers to refineries in Salt Lake City, Utah — will remain down until they address “indications of soil movement.” Due to the pipeline issues, OPIS reports that many refiners in the area have been relying on truck deliveries for supply. HollyFrontier, Silver Eagle and Big West Oil have all cut production rates at their Salt Lake City refineries. Tesoro reports that they have resumed operations at its 63,000-b/d Salt Lake City refinery after temporarily shutting down last week due to supply shortages.
Great Lakes and Central States
Indiana (-10 cents), Ohio (+7 cents), Michigan (+5 cents) and Kentucky (+3 cents) are posting the nation’s largest weekly changes. The latest EIA report shows that regional gasoline stocks increased 358,000 bbl, to 60.087 million bbl, while regional refinery utilization dropped for the third consecutive week. HollyFrontier’s 135,000-b/d refinery in El Dorado, Kansas, is currently undergoing planned turnaround work. Region pump prices will likely remain volatile in the coming weeks as refiners begin to make the switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Pump prices in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions remain relatively stable, moving +/- 3 cents or less on the week. Pennsylvania ($2.52), Washington D.C. ($2.47) and New York ($2.46), all land on the top 10 list of most expensive markets in the country while Virginia ($2.10) lands on the list of top 10 least expensive markets. The latest EIA report shows that Northeast gasoline inventory dropped to 75.488 million bbl, which is more than 3 million bbl higher than this same period last year.
South and Southeast
The region continues to remain home to the nation’s least expensive markets for retail gasoline: South Carolina ($2.03), Alabama ($2.06), Tennessee ($2.07), Mississippi ($2.08) and Texas ($2.08). The latest EIA report shows that gasoline inventories in the region dropped 1.7 million bbl for the week ending February 17. Last week, OPIS reports that Phillips 66 experienced minor operation issues at its 218,747-b/d Ponca City refinery in Oklahoma and at its 154,000-b/d refinery in Borger, Texas.
Oil Market Dynamics
The market opened Monday morning posting gains following commitments from the United Arab Emirates and Iran to catch up with their promised production cuts. Continued compliance from OPEC countries has kept crude oil trading higher than last year, but rising U.S. production has placed a ceiling on the market leading to flat prices.
U.S. oil production continues to grow steadily as evidenced by the increasing rig count. Friday, oil field service company Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. added five additional rigs bringing to total rig count to 602. Additionally, according to the most recent EIA weekly status report, U.S. crude oil inventories rose to a total of 518.7 million barrels. Traders will continue to watch the impact that increased U.S. production and inventories have on the market going forward. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 46 cents to settle at $53.99 per barrel.
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.