WASHINGTON, D.C. — Refinery utilization is at its highest measurement this year: 84%. This strong utilization rate, as measured by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), helped contribute to the addition of 4 million bbl of gasoline, pushing overall supply levels to 234.5 million bbl for the week ending April 2. The refinery and production increases amid a small decrease in demand and cheaper crude oil prices resulted in the national gas price average decreasing by a penny to $2.86 on the week.
“After a wild March, Americans are seeing a little stability at the pump. On the week, 40 states’ averages either increased or decreased by only a penny, or had no change at all,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. “Cheaper crude oil prices will likely help to keep price fluctuation low this week.”
For the first time in nearly two months, crude oil prices last week held below $60/bbl for five straight days. The cheaper price is a positive indicator for more stability at the pump.
With a 1.25% decrease, demand dropped slightly to 8.7 million b/d. That measurement is well above the 5.5 million b/d recorded one year ago, but still significantly lower than the 9.8 million b/d seen in early April 2019. AAA expects April demand to remain below levels from 2019, but see healthy increases from a year ago, when many Americans were quarantining.
Today’s national average is $2.86, which is cheaper on the week (−1 cent), but more expensive on the month (+3 cents) and year (+$1.00).
- The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($2.57), Texas ($2.57), South Carolina ($2.58), Louisiana ($2.61), Oklahoma ($2.62), North Carolina ($2.62), Missouri ($2.62), Alabama ($2.63), Arkansas ($2.67) and Delaware ($2.67).
- The nation’s top 10 largest yearly changes: Wisconsin ($+1.39), Michigan (+$1.24), Ohio (+$1.24), Oklahoma (+$1.21), Indiana (+$1.21), Iowa (+$1.19), Kentucky (+$1.18), Illinois (+$1.15), Arkansas (+$1.12) and Colorado (+$1.06).
Oil Market Dynamics
At the close of last week’s formal trading session, WTI decreased nearly 30 cents to settle at $59.32. After hitting a 12-month high of $66/bbl last month, crude oil prices have been on the decline. While last Monday saw a low of $58.65, prices fluctuated minimally throughout the week, but never hit $60/bbl. A build in U.S. gasoline supply amid mixed feelings about ongoing COVID-19 concerns, despite vaccination optimism, contributed to the lower prices.
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.