Crude oil prices remained soft last week as traders and analysts entertain doubts about the ability of production cuts from OPEC and other producers to bring the crude market back into balance at the same time that U.S. producers are ramping up production to take advantage of prices in the $50 to $55 range.
Analysts at GasBuddy noted that over the past four weeks gasoline prices have risen less than at any similar period since 2009. Last year, prices rose 29 cents a gallon between mid-February and mid-March. Historically, a gallon of regular gas in the United States rises by an average of 59 cents a gallon between mid-February and Memorial Day.
Gas prices rose in just 18 states over the past week. The five states taking the largest increases were Ohio (up 6.5 cents), Indiana (6.3 cents), Utah (3.6 cents a gallon), Illinois (2.5 cents) and Michigan (2.3 cents).
The five states where prices fell the most were Iowa (down 3.6 cents), Oklahoma (2.8 cents), Kansas (2.7 cents), South Carolina (2.6 cents) and Wisconsin (2.6 cents).
No state is showing an average of below $2.00 a gallon Monday morning. The five states with the lowest prices are South Carolina ($2.000 a gallon), Tennessee ($2.035), Alabama ($2.047), Mississippi ($2.049) and Oklahoma ($2.053). States posting the highest prices are Hawaii ($3.064 a gallon), California ($2.997), Washington ($2.845), Alaska ($2.739) and Oregon ($2.672).
The most common price across the country is $2.199, with the highest 5% of stations charging an average of $3.144 and the lowest 5% of stations charging $1.938. More than 10% of U.S. gas stations are charging less than $2.00 a gallon as of Monday morning.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil for April delivery traded down about 0.5% Monday morning at $48.52 a barrel, just a few cents a barrel less than a week ago. The contract closed at $48.78 on Friday.