At $2.58, the national gas price average has decreased for the first time week-over-week this year. Today’s price is 3 cent less than last week, 6 cents more than a month ago and 30 cents more than a year ago. Motorists can find gas for $2.50 or less at 53 percent of gas stations across the country.
“Gas price averages are less expensive for 78 percent of states compared to last Monday. Motorist filling up in the Midwest, South and East Coast are most likely to see the positive change at the pump,” said Jeanette Casselano. “Unfortunately, it’s too early to know if this one-week decline is the start of a cheaper gas price trend.”
Consumer gasoline demand and gasoline inventories increased according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports. Hitting its highest level this year, gasoline demand registered at 9.1 million b/d, a 169,000 b/d increase year-over year. Total U.S. gasoline inventories built by 3.4 million bbl to total 245.5 million bbl, which sits about 1.4 million bbl above the five-year average.
- The largest weekly changes in the nation’s top ten markets are: Indiana (-14 cents), Michigan (-11 cents), Kentucky (-9 cents), Ohio (-8 cents), Illinois (-6 cents), Utah (+6 cents), Hawaii (+5 cents), Missouri (-4 cents), Maryland (-4 cents) and Florida (+4 cents).
- The nation’s top ten most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($3.44), California ($3.35), Alaska ($3.04), Washington ($3.00), Oregon ($2.89), Pennsylvania ($2.86), Nevada ($2.78), Washington, D.C. ($2.77), New York ($2.76) and Connecticut ($2.74).
Drivers in six states in the West Coast region are paying the most expensive gas prices in the country: Hawaii ($3.44), California ($3.35), Alaska ($3.04), Washington ($3.00), Oregon ($2.89) and Nevada ($2.78). Conversely, Arizona ranks as the 9th state with the least expensive gas prices.
Only seven states in the country saw gas prices increase on the week, four of them were West Coast states. Hawaii (+5 cents) and Nevada (+3 cents) saw the region’s largest increases. Washington and California each increased by a penny, while Alaska decreased by a penny and Oregon saw no change in its average price.
According to the EIA, gasoline stocks in the region surged to a five-year peak – increasing by 1.1 million bbl. Inventories of gasoline now sit at 35 million bbl, which is unusually high for the region at this time of the year. Last year at this time, stocks were about 5 million bbl lower than the present level.
Great Lakes and Central
Gas prices are less expensive on the week across the Great Lakes and Central region, except North Dakota where prices remained stable. Indiana (-14 cents), Michigan (-11 cents), Kentucky (-9 cents), Ohio (-8 cents) and Illinois (-6 cents) saw not only the largest decreases in the region, but in country. In the region, North Dakota ($2.63) and Iowa ($2.60) are selling the most expensive gasoline. At $2.37, Ohio is selling the cheapest gas in the region and the 7th cheapest in the country.
Compared to one month ago, Michigan (-16 cents), Ohio (-13 cents), Illinois (-12 cents), Indiana (-11 cents) and Kentucky (-5 cents) are five of only six states in the country that are paying less at the pump. These states have seen very volatile gas prices since January.
Gasoline inventories in the region have built every week this year according to EIA reports. With a build of nearly 1 million bbl, gasoline inventories total 57 million bbl this week.
South and Southeast
All but one state in the South and Southeast are seeing cheaper pump prices on the week. Mississippi and Texas lead the region with the largest decrease of 4 cents. Florida (+4 cents) is the only state in the region to see an increase. At $2.64, the sunshine state’s gas average is the most expensive in the region and ranks as the 13th most expensive at the country. Conversely, six states in the region rank among the 10 with the cheapest gas prices in the country: Texas ($2.33), Mississippi ($2.33), South Carolina ($2.34), Alabama ($2.34), Arkansas ($2.37) and Oklahoma ($2.38).
Gasoline inventories increased by a small 146,000 bbl on the week and continue to sit above the 81 million bbl mark, according to the EIA.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Motorists across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region are enjoying cheaper gas prices on the week. The states with the largest declines include Maryland (-4 cents), North Carolina (-4 cents), Delaware (-3 cent), Maine (-3 cents), Tennessee (-3 cent), and Washington, D.C. (-3 cents). All other states saw prices drop 1-2 cents. Gas prices in the region are as expensive as $2.86 (Pennsylvania) and as cheap as $2.41 (Virginia).
Compared to one month ago, gas prices on average are 7 cents more expensive for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. Motorists in New Jersey (+11 cents) are seeing the biggest month-over-month increase, while motorists in West Virginia (+2 cents) are paying the smallest difference.
With a 1.6 million bbl build, regional gasoline inventories register at 65 million bbl. According to the EIA, that is the largest build of any region in the country. However, large inventory builds may not be common as local Phillips 66 Bayway refinery turnaround is underway through at least this month and will reduce capacity temporarily.
Utah (+6 cents) tops the Rockies region list for the states with the largest increases on the week. With a 3-cent increase, Idaho also joins the list. Gas prices are slightly cheaper for motorists filling up in Colorado (-1 cent) and Wyoming (-1 cent). Gas prices remain stable in Montana, but at $2.61 is the most expensive gas price average, along with Idaho ($2.61), in the Rockies region.
Gasoline inventories in the Rockies saw the largest one-week decline on the year dropping by 386,000 bbl. Registering at 7.4 million bbl, inventories sit at their lowest mark of the year.
Oil market dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped by nearly $2 to settle at $59.20. Price gains made throughout January, which saw a closing high of $66.27, were wiped away after trading last week. Last week’s losses, which were buoyed by a strengthening dollar, may continue into this week after EIA’s latest weekly petroleum report revealed that U.S. crude production hit 10.25 million b/d – a new record weekly production rate.
The continuing growth in U.S. crude oil production may give the market some pause as it continues to assess the long-term impact of OPEC’s production reduction agreement, which remains in effect through the end of 2018. On the other hand, OPEC’s latest forecast for oil demand projects that global oil demand will increase by 1.59 million b/d. The estimate is an increase of 60,000 b/d from last year, which may help to drain growing oil exports from the U.S.
A sign of potentially explosive growth in U.S. crude production, the latest Baker Hughes, Inc. report found the active oil rig count in the U.S. grew by 26 new rigs last week to total at 791. This is the highest number of active rigs since April 2015, and it will likely push production to even higher levels later this year.
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.