Energy Economy

National Average Gasoline Price Nears 3-Year High

The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose by six cents last week to start this week at $2.71, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. Month over month, the price is up nearly 18 cents a gallon and is about 30 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month, the national average was $2.533, while the year-ago average was $2.413.

Among the 50 states, only Delaware saw a decline (less than a penny) in pump prices over the past week. Crude oil prices rose more than 8.5% last week, primarily on geopolitical issues like the attack on Syria and a trade war with China. Demand remained strong last week as well.

U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels last week and gasoline inventories rose by half a million barrels. The increase could not stop crude from rising to its highest level in 995 days, according to GasBuddy.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:

The seasonal surge at gas pumps is in full motion, causing the most dreaded time of year for fearful motorists, especially of what may still be coming. With the national average gas price now at its highest since July 26, 2015, I can’t immediately allay all fears of a continued spike in gas prices, however, we’re likely in the closing innings of the seasonal rise- let’s just hope we don’t go to extra innings. In the past few years, the average date that gas prices have peaked is mid-May, which is just around the corner, and by all metrics, that could be very close to what we expect this time around. Refinery maintenance has gone well thus far, and gasoline supply has continued to push higher as more refiners conclude their work. With the transition to summer gasoline also wrapping up, the reasons [for] gas prices to rise will shrink.

According to GasBuddy, states where prices moved most last week were: Michigan (up 12 cents); Utah (up nine cents); Idaho and Nebraska (up eight cents); and Georgia, Illinois, West Virginia, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee (up seven cents).

States with the lowest average prices last week included: Missouri ($2.42); Oklahoma and Arkansas ($2.43); Mississippi ($2.45); South Carolina ($2.46); Louisiana ($2.47); Kansas and Texas ($2.48); Alabama ($2.49); and Wyoming ($2.50).

The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from California ($3.55); Hawaii ($3.48); Alaska ($3.22); Washington ($3.20); Nevada ($3.11); Oregon ($3.09); Utah ($2.97); Pennsylvania ($2.94); Idaho ($2.93); and New York ($2.80).

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for May delivery traded down about 1.2% Monday afternoon at $66.60, while Brent for June delivery traded at $71.77. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude rose by seven cents to $5.17 a barrel week over week.