US Gas Price Ticks Higher Again, but Lower Prices Seen Ahead

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The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose by half a cent in the past week, to start this week off at a price of $2.84, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. The summer driving season (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend) posted an average price of $2.87 a gallon, the highest since 2014. Pump prices reached a year-to-date high of $2.97 at the Memorial Day holiday and have declined slowly ever since.

Month over month the price is up a mere tenth of a cent per gallon and remains about 24 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.843, while the year-ago average was $2.609.

Retail gasoline prices were 55 cents a gallon higher this year compared to the summer driving season of 2017, but 71 cents below the 2014 average.

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

With several areas of tropical weather moving away from the U.S. comes some breathing room for energy markets, with oil prices under pressure as the risk premium subsides, setting the stage for some relief at the gas pump as we progress through the week. Despite the tremendous blow and flooding of the Carolinas, Florence’s impact on oil delivery and refinery operations was next to nothing. … In addition, this week marks the first full week of cheaper winter gasoline across most of the country as EPA regulations see their seasonal ease. This, coupled with lower demand in the weeks ahead, will push retail gasoline prices lower.

Hurricane Florence has forced the closure of about 20% of North Carolina’s gas stations, and nearly 10% are closed due to lack of electricity. About 17% of the state’s diesel pumps are also out of fuel, according to GasBuddy. Outages were worst in Wilmington, where at least 70% of stations were reportedly out of gas. In Greenville/New Bern, 56% were without gas, but the number is an improvement over the 63% that were without gas on Sunday. In Raleigh/Durham, nearly 26% of stations were still without fuel.

There have been no reported fuel pipeline disruptions due to the storm. The issue in the Carolinas is a logistical one of getting fuel (and in some cases, electricity) into the flooded areas.

States with the lowest average prices last week included: Alabama ($2.51), Mississippi ($2.52), Louisiana ($2.55), Arkansas ($2.56), South Carolina ($2.57), Tennessee ($2.57), Texas ($2.59), Oklahoma ($2.60), Virginia ($2.62) and Missouri ($2.62)

The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from Hawaii ($3.70), California ($3.62), Washington ($3.36), Alaska ($3.27), Oregon ($3.24), Idaho ($3.19), Nevada ($3.19), Utah ($3.11), Pennsylvania ($3.06) and Connecticut ($3.01).

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil for October delivery traded down about 0.2% in the noon hour Monday to $68.87, while Brent for November delivery traded at $78.08. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude decreased by $0.37 to $9.21 a barrel week over week.