National pump prices have risen for 20 of the past 21 days, rising a total of 11 cents during this span. The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline sits at $2.24 per gallon, which is the highest mark since October. Today’s average is three cents more than one week ago, nine cents more compared to one month ago and 24 cents more than the same date last year. Prices continue to rise due to market expectations of tighter availability following the announcement of an OPEC deal to cut oil production that is scheduled to start in January 2017.
- The nation’s top five least expensive markets are: Arkansas ($2.02), Oklahoma ($2.02), South Carolina ($2.03), Missouri ($2.04) and Texas ($2.05).
- The nation’s top five most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($2.95), California ($2.67), Alaska ($2.62), Washington ($2.59) and the District of Columbia ($2.54).
Drivers on the West Coast continue to pay some of the most expensive prices in the nation, this includes market-leader Hawaii ($2.95), where prices continue to inch back toward the $3 per gallon benchmark. Despite these high prices, drivers in many of these same states are enjoying some of the most dramatic month-over-month declines in the country. Idaho (-18 cents) has the highest monthly discount, while Nevada (-8 cents), Oregon (-5 cents), Arizona (-5 cents), Washington (-5 cents), California (-4 cents) all register in the top ten.
According to recent reports from the U.S. EIA, gasoline production on the West Coast reached a one month high of nearly 1.6 million b/d and gasoline inventories remain at a 15-week high of 29.2 bbl, which was nearly 2 million bbl higher than the same time last year.
A shutdown on the Olympic Pipeline system in the Pacific Northwest temporarily cut into deliveries last week, according to reports from OPIS. BP shutdown the Olympic Pipeline on Monday, December 12 to conduct planned maintenance on the system which distributes refined product throughout Washington state and Oregon. The pipeline was reopened on Thursday, December 15.
Pump prices on the week in the Rocky Mountain states were a mixed bag, with Utah (-4 cents) being the only state with a decrease. Despite recent increases in some parts of the region, averages remain below the $2.50 per gallon benchmark.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Week-over-week retail averages increased in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern region, moving by +/- 3 cents or less per gallon in most areas. Washington, D.C. ($2.53) is the only area located in this region with an average price above $2.50 per gallon and prices on the whole remain moderate. Consumers in New Jersey (+45 cents), Washington, D.C. (+33 cents), Virginia (+29 cents), Maryland (+27 cents) and Delaware (+27 cents) are all spending 25 cents or more per gallon year-over-year. Eastern gasoline supplies increased by 1.6 million bbl on the week and the market remains well supplied.
South and Southeast
South and Southeastern states continue to dominate the rankings of the nation’s least expensive markets for gas, except for Florida where drivers are now paying more than $2.30 per gallon. Arkansas ($2.02) and Oklahoma ($2.02) are the nation’s cheapest markets for retail gasoline. They are followed in the rankings by regional neighbors South Carolina ($2.03), Mississippi ($2.03), Texas ($2.05), Alabama ($2.05), Tennessee ($2.05) and Louisiana ($2.07).
Midwest and Central States
The Midwest is often the most volatile area in the country for gas prices, and it is not uncommon for prices to move significantly from day to day. At the moment, the average prices in most states are heading up on the week with the exception of Michigan ($2.25) where drivers are paying five cents less. Average prices in other parts of the region have posted among the largest increases in the country over the past week: Indiana (+8 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents), Ohio (+7 cents) and Illinois (+3 cents).
Missouri ($2.04) and Kansas ($2.05) are ranked in the nation’s top 10 least expensive markets despite significant week-over-week increases: Missouri (+7 cents) and Kansas (+3 cents).
Oil Market Dynamics
Last week, markets continued to react to the OPEC production agreement as Saudi Arabia and Russia made clear their intentions to fully cooperate with the production cut. OPEC and non-OPEC members agreed this month to cut oil production collectively by 1.8 million barrels per day in an effort to rebalance the global oil market. In reaction to the OPEC agreement, U.S. interest in oil production has increased and drillers added 12 new oil rigs in the last week, bringing the total oil-rig count to 510 rigs nationwide, according to Baker Hughes Inc. Traders will continue to watch how OPEC and non-OPEC members move forward with the terms of the agreement and how U.S. oil producers react. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up $1.00 to settle at $51.90 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.