More than half of all state gas price averages increased as much as three cents in the last week. The jumps, which caused the national gas price average to increase by a penny to $2.47, was caused by a decrease in U.S. gasoline stocks and increases in demand. The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest data show total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 2 million bbl to 259.1 million bbl, while demand increased from 8.72 million b/d to 8.92 million b/d. Some of the decrease in stocks can be attributed to refinery maintenance.
“Gasoline prices are likely to fluctuate in the coming weeks, but not drastically, as the winter driving season nears its end and refineries undergo maintenance,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “This is the typical trend this time of year.”
Today’s national average is six cents cheaper than last month and eight cents more expensive than last year.
- The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Delaware (+13 cents), Missouri (+10 cents), Texas (+9 cents), Florida (+8 cents), Illinois (+8 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents), Maryland (+8 cents), New Mexico (+7 cents), Nebraska (+6 cents) and Oklahoma (+6 cents).
- The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.13), Texas ($2.16), Louisiana ($2.16), Missouri ($2.19), Arkansas ($2.19), Alabama ($2.19), Oklahoma ($2.20), South Carolina ($2.20), Kansas ($2.21) and Tennessee ($2.23).
South and Southeast
Gas prices are more expensive across the South and Southeast states at the start of the work week. At the least, motorists are paying three cents more per gallon to fill-up. These states saw the largest jumps on the week: Texas (+9 cents), Florida (+8 cents), New Mexico (+7 cents), Oklahoma (+6 cents), Louisiana (+5 cents) and Arkansas (+5 cents).
While gas prices are more expensive on the week and as much as 12 cents more compared to last year, motorists are seeing savings month-over-month. In the region, Mississippi (-10 cents), Alabama (-10 cents) and Louisiana (-9 cents) carry the largest change since late January.
Contributing to the increase in pump prices was the decrease in gasoline stocks and maintenance at regional refineries. Stocks drew by 277,000 bbl down to 92.9 million bbl. That is the second lowest measured stock level for the region this year. However, the good news is the latest EIA regional refinery utilization report shows a 2% bump to 92%. This could help to increase stock levels in the week ahead and help minimize any further price fluctuation.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Most Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states have seen fluctuation at the pump on the week. However, 8 of the 15 states in the region saw gas prices increase by only a penny or hold steady. Delaware (+13 cents) and Maryland (+8 cents) saw the largest increases in the region and land on the top 10 list of largest weekly jumps in the country. Today, gas prices range from $2.30 in Virginia to $2.67 in Pennsylvania.
Three of the top 10 states with the largest monthly differences reside in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region: Maine (-13 cents), West Virginia (-12 cents) and Delaware (-11 cents).
Based on EIA data, regional gas prices should have increased for most states. Gasoline stocks drew by nearly 850,000 bbl and regional refinery utilization decreased from 65% to 59%. This combination could lead to volatility in the week ahead especially as the Phillips 66 265,000-b/d Bayway refinery in Linden, N.J. undergoes maintenance.
Great Lakes and Central States
In the Great Lakes and Central region, Michigan ($2.45) and Missouri ($2.19) are the only states with gas price averages more expensive on the week, month and year. All other states have cheaper month-over-month prices and saw varying fluctuation in the last week.
On the week, Missouri (+10 cents), Illinois (+8 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents) and Nebraska (+6 cents) have the largest weekly increases in the region and rank among the biggest 10 jumps in the country. Meanwhile, Indiana (-6 cents) saw the largest decrease in the region and country this past week.
It’s surprising that regional gas prices jumped in the last seven days given that stocks increased by 421,000 bbl to 59.1 million – the highest stock level in a year – and refinery utilization held steady at 91%. However, volatility is typical for the region and most states only saw jumps of just a few pennies in the last week.
Pump prices in the West Coast region have mostly declined, consistent with the winter driving season. On the week, most state averages declined by only a penny, while Oregon (+1 cent) saw the largest increase. Hawaii ($3.58) and California ($3.48) remain the most expensive markets in the country. Washington ($3.08), Oregon ($2.98), Nevada ($2.91), Alaska ($2.91) and Arizona ($2.77) follow.
According to EIA’s latest weekly report, total gas stocks in the region decreased from 32.21 million bbl to 30.85 million bbl. The current supply level is approximately 2 million bbl lower than 2019’s level at this time. Pump prices are expected to fluctuate this week, since stocks are low and demand is growing, signaling that the spring driving season is near.
The Rockies was one of only two regions to see all state gas price averages push less expensive on the week: Colorado (-4 cents), Utah (-2 cents), Wyoming (-2 cents), Montana (-1 cents) and Idaho (-1 cents).
With the latest decreases in the region while most of the rest of the country is seeing increases, the Rockies continue to stay off the top 10 list for the most expensive averages. In the region, state averages range from $2.40 – $2.51, which is as much as a quarter less expensive than this time last year.
Gas prices have been less expensive as stocks continue to measure at new records. This week, EIA totals regional stocks at 9.5 million bbl. Regional refinery utilization is down 2% to 90%. Given the extremely healthy stock levels, the downward utilization shift isn’t likely to impact gas prices, especially amid a low demand season.
Oil Market Dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased by 50 cents to settle at $53.38. Although crude prices increased for the second week, they may not be able hold onto gains this week as concerns regarding the coronavirus continue to mount. The market continues to worry that reduced global travel and a slowdown in production in China, the world’s second largest crude consuming country, will reduce crude demand this year. Until it appears that the public health threat from the virus declines and China’s industrial sector recovers, crude prices are likely to continue facing downward pressure.
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.