Energy Economy

Gasoline Prices Rise as Demand, Exports Remain Robust

For the third consecutive week, U.S. gasoline prices were higher Monday morning than they were in the prior week. The week-over-week increase in the national average was up 2 cents a gallon for regular gasoline, well below the 7-cent hike we saw last Monday.

The national average this morning was $2.55, up from $2.53 last week and up nearly 9 cents a gallon compared with the month-ago price.

Gasoline inventories fell to a three-year low last week according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Strong domestic demand and higher exports of gasoline are continuing to put upward pressure on prices.

Most significant may be continuing strong demand. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at Gasbuddy, said:

If you use gas prices to figure out what time of year it is, you’d probably think it’s spring based on the continued upward trend showing up in much of the country. Absent is the beloved fall at the pump that usually accompanies the fall weather, but apparently this year is playing a trick on motorists. The cheapest price this year was in July while the most expensive showed up after the driving season concluded as Harvey hit, and we may get closer to that mark as gasoline inventories continue to drift to new multi-year lows. It’s been a lousy time for motorists and I’d expect to see some cut their spending during the holidays as gas prices are up

States where prices moved most last week were: Indiana (down 10 cents); Florida (up 8 cents); Michigan (up 7 cents); Ohio and Illinois (down 7 cents); Oregon and Nebraska (up 6 cents); and Iowa, Georgia, and Texas (up 5 cents).

States with the lowest average prices last week included Mississippi ($2.26); South Carolina ($2.29); Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas ($2.31); Virginia ($2.34); and Missouri and Oklahoma ($2.35).

The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from California ($3.23); Hawaii ($3.21); Alaska ($3.16); Washington ($2.97); Oregon ($2.83); Nevada and Pennsylvania ($2.81); Connecticut ($2.73); Michigan ($2.72); and New York ($2.70).

WTI crude oil for December delivery traded down about 0.1% Monday morning at $56.69 while Brent for January delivery traded at $63.08. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude is has dropped by more than $1.25 a barrel since last week. That’s still much higher than usual and indicates that WTI export quantities could remain at recent highs, putting more upward pressure on U.S. pump prices.