Gas prices are on the move, reaching an average price of $2.33 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. Today’s price is four cents more than a week ago, one cent more compared to one month ago and 27 cents more than the same date last year. National gas prices have increased six of the last seven days. Although the increase in prices has been moderate, it is possible this trend could continue as refinery maintenance wraps up, more expensive summer-blend gasoline becomes available and driving demand increases this spring.
- The nation’s top ten least expensive markets are: South Carolina ($2.04), Tennessee ($2.08), Mississippi ($2.08), Alabama ($2.09), Oklahoma ($2.10), Arkansas ($2.10), Missouri ($2.11), Louisiana ($2.12), Virginia ($2.13) and Texas ($2.15).
- The nation’s top ten markets with the largest weekly increases include: Ohio (+18 cents), Michigan (+16 cents), Indiana (+14 cents), Illinois (+11 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents), Delaware (+7 cents), West Virginia (+6 cents), Kentucky (+5 cents), Oregon (+5 cents) and Georgia (+5 cents).
Gas prices on the West Coast remain the highest in the country, with six states in the region topping the list of most expensive U.S. markets: Hawaii ($3.05), California ($2.98), Washington ($2.86), Alaska ($2.78), Oregon ($2.72) and Nevada ($2.66). Prices in the Northwest and California will continue to rise in the coming weeks due to refinery maintenance.
BP started planned maintenance at its 236,000-b/d Cherry Point refinery in Ferndale, Washington, last week, while PBF Energy restarted the hydrotreater unit at its 157,800-b/d refinery in Torrance, California, due to unplanned flaring last Monday. This week, the refinery begins major maintenance work which is expected to last 45-55 days and will likely tighten supply and increase California gas prices. Today, BP is also shutting down operations on its Olympic Pipeline until April 10 for planned maintenance. The shutdown will temporarily impact shipments of gasoline in the northern part of the region.
Drivers in the Rockies are among the only ones in the nation to see moderate price declines. Prices in the region are often geographically insulated from movement tied to global crude oil prices and have generally been among the more stable in the nation.
Great Lakes and Central States
The Great Lakes and Central States are currently switching from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline and drivers are seeing significant increases at the pump, with Ohio (+18 cents), Michigan (+16 cents), Indiana (+14 cents), Illinois (+11 cents), Wisconsin (+7 cents) and Kentucky (+5 cents) landing on the list of top 10 weekly increases.
Unplanned mechanical repairs and pipeline issues at Valero’s 172,000-b/d McKee and 103,000-b/d Houston refineries in the Texas Panhandle are impacting delivery and tightening supply in the Midwest region.
South and Southeast
Markets in the South and Southeast continue to post some of the lowest prices for retail gasoline in the nation, including South Carolina ($2.04), Tennessee ($2.08), Mississippi ($2.08), Alabama ($2.09), Louisiana ($2.12) and Texas ($2.15).
ExxonMobil’s 584,000-b/d Baytown, Texas refinery experienced operational issues last week due to severe weather. Valero also reports pipeline issues and unplanned mechanical repairs at both its 172,000-b/d McKee and 103,000-b/d Houston refineries, which has tightened supply in the Dallas area. OPIS reports that during past fuel-supply problems, the market pulled barrels of gasoline from Tyler, Texas and can also receive supply via pipeline from Corpus Christi.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Prices in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions have followed the national average the past week with Delaware (+7 cents), West Virginia (+6 cents) and Maryland (+4 cents), all landing on the list of largest weekly increases. The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that regional gasoline storage levels dropped by 2.6 million bbl, the largest decline in the country. The region will switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline by April 10 and drivers will continue to see increases at the pump.
Oil Market Dynamics
This morning, the market saw a bump following reports that Iraq plans to increase its production cut compliance as a part of OPEC’s output agreement. This announcement furthered speculation that OPEC and non-OPEC producers may extend their agreement beyond the original six-month deadline of June. The oil reduction deal was brokered last fall in an attempt to rebalance the global oil supply and boost the price of crude oil. While the agreement has lifted the price of crude oil to $50 per barrel, it has also encouraged U.S. producers to invest and drill more. Oil service company Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. increased its rig count by 10 last week, bringing the total to 662. Traders will keep a close eye on discussions between OPEC and non-OPEC producers and any decisions they make regarding further production cuts through the remainder of 2017. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 25 cents to settle at $50.60 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.