Gas prices have fallen for nine consecutive days, reaching today’s average of $2.33 per gallon. Gasoline demand remains on track to set a new all-time high for the 2016 summer driving season, however, crude oil remains relatively less expensive than recent years which is contributing to direct savings at the pump. Drivers are saving a nickel per gallon on the week, but are paying five cents per gallon more on the month. Averages are down 46 cents per gallon versus this same date last year, attributed year-over-year surpluses, and these savings are likely to continue as supply appears more than capable of keeping pace with growing demand.
Pump prices generally peak during the summer months, due to imbalances in supply and demand. Unlike many recent years, supply appears to be meeting the growing demand and as a result prices have held relatively steady and markedly lower than one year ago. On the whole, refineries are keeping up with growing demand and the latest data from the U.S. EIA shows that the market is well supplied. Additionally, expectations of increased production from Western Canada and the U.S. are likely to keep global crude oil prices relatively lower. The combination of the abovementioned factors is contributing to prices at the pump remaining at some of their lowest levels since 2005, and these comparative savings should persist, barring and major disruptions in production or supply.
- The nation’s top five most expensive markets are: California ($2.86), Hawaii ($2.75), Alaska ($2.68), Washington ($2.65), and Michigan ($2.59).
- The nation’s top five least expensive markets are: South Carolina ($2.03), Mississippi ($2.07), Arkansas ($2.09), Oklahoma ($2.09) and New Jersey ($2.11).
- Prices are down double-digits in several Great Lake States week-over-week—Ohio (-18 cents), Indiana (-18 cents) and Michigan (-15 cents)—following a string of unplanned refinery issues and distribution challenges that had caused prices to jump over the past several weeks.
The West Coast leads the nation, with four of the top five most expensive states located in the region: California ($2.86), Hawaii ($2.75), Alaska ($2.68) and Washington ($2.65). Gasoline supplies in the region are reportedly at six-month lows due to rising demand; however, production is approaching year-to date-highs and prices in the region remain relatively steady. States located on the West Coast are posting some of the largest year-over-year discounts, led by Alaska (-74 cents) and Nevada (-69 cents), and prices are down in every state in the region by more than 50 cents per gallon over this same period.
Retail averages in the Rocky Mountain states are relatively steady, moving by +/- 3 cents on the week. Utah (-5 cents) is the only state posting a savings of a nickel or more on the month, and drivers in the state are also benefiting from significant yearly savings (-64 cents). Gas prices in the region are below the $2.50 per gallon benchmark and are expected to remain moderately priced in the near term.
Pump prices in the Great Lakes remain volatile and continue to be impacted primarily by imbalances in supply and demand. Although pump prices are down in every state in the region on the week, Michigan ($2.59), Illinois ($2.58) and Ohio ($2.50) are ranked in the nation’s top 10 most expensive market for retail gasoline. Expectations of ongoing supply challenges in Michigan prompted the state to extend its emergency energy declaration through July 13 and operations at ExxonMobil’s Joliet, IL refinery were disrupted earlier in the week by an unspecified issue with one of its units. Despite these reports, Ohio (-18 cents), Indiana (-18 cents) and Michigan (-15 cents) are posting the nation’s largest weekly savings and the latest data from the U.S.EIA points to the region increasing its gasoline production.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Despite being home to one of the nation’s top 10 most expensive markets—Washington, D.C. ($2.54)—on the whole, gas prices in the region are relatively moderate and remain below the $2.50 per gallon benchmark.
Gas prices are down in every state in the Northeast on the week, with the largest weekly savings experienced by drivers in Delaware (-5 cents), Maryland (-3 cents), Maine (-3 cents) and New Jersey (-3 cents). Consumers in the region are also benefitting from noticeable year-over-year savings, with averages down by more than 50 cents per gallon in Delaware (-56 cents), New York (-52 cents), Connecticut (-51 cents) and New Jersey (-51 cents). Total gasoline inventories in the region are reportedly healthy and pump prices should remain relatively steady in the region during this year’s summer driving season.
The South Atlantic region remains the nation’s least expensive market for retail gasoline, with six of the nation’s top 10 least expensive markets located in the region. South Carolina ($2.03), Mississippi ($2.07) and Arkansas ($2.09) are the nation’s least expensive markets and prices are down on the week in every state in the region.
Magellan Midstream Partners announced the reopening of the company’s pipeline that runs through Texas, and full operations resumed over the weekend. The pipeline was taken offline for repair following the flooding that occurred in the region earlier in the month. Demand for gasoline appears to be growing in the region and supplies have fallen over the past few weeks. Despite this increasing demand, gasoline supplies remain ample in and are above year-over-year levels, providing consumers with a cushion that is likely to keep prices relatively lower.
Gas prices in the Central region of the continent remain relatively low and Oklahoma ($2.09), Missouri ($2.12) and Tennessee ($2.13) are ranked in the nation’s top 10 least expensive markets. Consumers in Missouri (-7 cents), Oklahoma (-6 cents) and Minnesota (-5 cents) have seen prices fall by a nickel or more week-over-week and the region overall remains well supplied. Magellan’s pipeline in Kansas remains offline for repair; however supply appears to be capable of offsetting this outage.
Oil Market Dynamics
Crude oil prices continue to swing on speculations of increased production and market dynamics related to the geopolitical issues. Both primary global benchmarks, West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude, opened the week with gains credited to questions surrounding whether the U.K will exit the European Union, and what, if any impact it will have on the global oil market and the U.S. dollar. A vote is scheduled for later this week. News about U.S. gasoline demand and the U.S. dollar are also expected to influence crude oil prices in the near term – both factors tend to lead to fluctuations in the price drivers pay at the pump.
After reaching its lowest settlement price since May 13 earlier in the week, WTI closed out Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, up $1.77 to settle at $47.98 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.