Gas Prices Unexpectedly Drop Before Memorial Day, Down in 42 States

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Gasoline pump prices have fallen from a 19-month high last week, in a rarely seen price drop ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. The national average price Monday morning was $2.354, down more than four cents a gallon, but up more than three cents compared with a month ago and up 13.5 cents year over year.

The primary reason for the drop is refinery output. Last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that crude oil inventories had dropped by 3.4 million barrels. Offsetting that drop were gains of 3.4 million barrels and 2.7 million barrels in gasoline and distillate stockpiles, respectively.

GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst, Patrick DeHaan, noted:

Gasoline prices appear to be taking a breather this week as refinery output, following spring maintenance, appears to be outstripping expected motorist demand. It’s unusual to see gas prices drop as the official kick-off to the summer driving season is just a few weeks away. Memorial Day weekend starts the peak gasoline consumption season across the United States.

Gas prices dropped in 42 states over the past week, compared with drops in just 22 states in the prior week. The five states experiencing the largest decreases were Indiana (15.0 cents a gallon), Michigan (13.7 cents), Ohio (12.5 cents), Hawaii (7.6 cents) and Kentucky (7.2 cents).

Among the few states where prices rose were Montana (11.1 cents per gallon), Wyoming (6.2 cents) and South Dakota (3.2 cents).

Only two states showed an average below $2.10 a gallon Monday morning. The five states with the lowest prices are Oklahoma ($2.072 a gallon), South Carolina ($2.076), Mississippi ($2.127), Tennessee ($2.127) and Arkansas ($2.151). States posting the highest prices are Hawaii ($3.032 a gallon), California ($2.983), Washington ($2.877), Oregon $2.758) and Alaska ($2.749).

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for June delivery traded down about 0.9% Monday morning, at $48.91 a barrel, just 22 cents a barrel above last Monday’s opening price of $48.69.