The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline was unchanged from last week to start the new week at $2.85, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. Pump prices reached a year-to-date high of $2.97 on the Friday ahead of the Memorial Day holiday and have been declining slowly ever since.
Month over month, the price is down about 11 cents a gallon, though it remains more than 62 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.957 while the year-ago average was $2.224.
The recent sharp increases in crude oil prices are about to end the short period of declining pump prices Americans have experienced lately.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:
Going into the July 4 holiday, I can’t remember the last time oil markets were so active. Oil has surged over 10% just in time for summer’s busiest travel holiday, costing motorists over $1 billion more than last year. All the ingredients exist for the national average to inch closer to $3 per gallon, just in time for the second half of the summer. Undoubtedly, the second half of the summer will be pricier than the first, thanks to OPEC’s production increase falling short of expectations, sanctions to be placed back on Iran by November and falling U.S. oil inventories. And to rub some salt in the wound, hurricane season is still upon us, adding more guess work to where gas prices might spend the second half of the summer. Make no mistake, it won’t be pretty, not nearly as “pretty” as the first half of the summer. Be ready for volatility and likely higher prices at the pump in July and August.
According to GasBuddy, states where prices moved most last week were: Michigan (up 13 cents); Ohio and Wyoming (up four cents); Arizona (down four cents); Illinois (up three cents), South Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky (up two cents); and Rhode Island and Connecticut (down two cents).
States with the lowest average prices last week included: South Carolina ($2.51); Mississippi and Alabama ($2.52); Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas ($2.57); Missouri and Oklahoma ($2.58); Virginia ($2.61); and Kansas ($2.64).
The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from California and Hawaii ($3.65); Washington ($3.42); Alaska ($3.38); Nevada ($3.31); Oregon ($3.27); Utah ($3.18); Idaho ($3.16); Connecticut ($3.09); and Arizona ($3.06).
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for August delivery traded down less than 0.1% Monday at $74.09, while Brent for September delivery traded at $77.84. The quotes are given for the front-month contract. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude dropped by $2.27 to $3.75 a barrel week over week.