U.S. retail gasoline prices rose last week to a national average of $3.58, up more than three cents from the prior week and the highest level in more than four months. Month over month, the price rose nine cents, and it is more than 30 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.48, while the year-ago average was $2.27.
Among the 50 states, 48 experienced gas price increases last week. Strong crude oil prices and near-record crude oil exports have put plenty of upward pressure on pump prices.
Crude oil inventories have fallen by almost 77 million barrels over the past 12 months, largely due to stronger demand. Refinery utilization dipped from 93% in the prior week to 91% last week. Gasoline inventories rose by 3.1 million barrels last week as refiners gear up for seasonal maintenance.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:
With oil maintaining strength, gasoline prices have continued to climb in many places, rising to their highest level since Hurricane Harvey dealt a blow to Texas and a significant portion of U.S. refining capacity. This time around, oil prices have been the culprit for gasoline prices rising to their highest level in over 130 days, and with U.S. crude oil inventories plummeting for 10 straight weeks, I see diminishing chances of the traditional winter relief that accompanies the year’s coldest months. Without gas prices falling, the current price environment may be the floor for what could become a more expensive year than anticipated, barring any change to OPEC policy that has led to today’s climate of lower supply and higher prices.
States where prices moved most last week were: North Dakota (up eight cents); Nebraska and Iowa (up seven cents); Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan and Minnesota (up six cents); Mississippi and Kansas (up five cents); and Arkansas (up four cents).
States with the lowest average prices last week included South Carolina ($2.34); Texas ($2.35); Mississippi and Arkansas ($2.36); Missouri ($2.37); Oklahoma ($2.38); Louisiana and New Mexico ($2.39); and Tennessee ($2.40).
The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from Hawaii ($3.36); California ($3.22); Alaska ($3.11); Washington ($2.94); Pennsylvania ($2.87); Oregon ($2.81); Nevada ($2.76); New York ($2.74); Connecticut ($2.73); and New Jersey ($2.67).
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for March delivery traded down about 1.4% just ahead of the noon hour Monday at $65.19, while Brent for March delivery traded at $69.28. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude narrowed by more than $1.00 to $4.06 a barrel week over week.