The price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose by nearly five cents last week to a national average price of $2.75, the highest price so far this year and the highest in nearly five months. The increase marks the eighth straight week of rising pump prices.
The most common pump price for regular gasoline is $2.59 a gallon, unchanged week over week. The average price of the highest-priced 10% of gas stations rose from $3.53 per gallon to $3.68, while the nation’s lowest-priced 10% of stations averaged $2.35 per gallon, up just two cents in the week. (These are 10 states with very cheap gas.)
Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, commented:
The national average gas price has now risen for 2 months straight, tacking on a total of 50 cents per gallon in the last 90 days, which will cost Americans nearly $200 million more at the pump today than back in early January. The road doesn’t end here, however, with California and the West Coast seeing a surge in unexpected refinery outages, leading to an extremely tight supply of cleaner summer gasoline and causing prices to skyrocket. California will soon be home to something not seen in nearly five years: a statewide average of over $4 per gallon, with some of the largest cities there swelling to averages as high as $4.15 per gallon before any relief arrives. It really is going to be ugly this week in the West Coast, and any further issues could lead to more spikes, but for the rest of the country expect the rise to continue for a ninth straight week with little good news on the horizon.
DeHaan also noted that refiners are switching to summer grade fuel and building stockpiles in anticipation of the summer driving season that “officially” begins with the Memorial Day holiday. U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 7 million barrels in the week ending March 29, while gasoline inventories dropped by about 2 million barrels. Refinery maintenance and unexpected outages have left gasoline inventories 1% lower than a year ago at this time.
Prices rose by nearly 4% to $3.77 over the past week in California, with Hawaii ($3.66), Washington ($3.23), Oregon ($3.11), Nevada ($3.08) and Alaska ($3.06) the other five states where gas prices average at least $3 a gallon.
The five states where gas prices are lowest are Mississippi ($2.43), Arkansas ($2.44), Alabama ($2.44), Louisiana ($2.46) and South Carolina ($2.46). In all, pump prices rose by more than five cents a gallon in 10 states over the past week.
Gasoline prices are up more than 27 cents a gallon compared with the month-ago price of around $2.48 a gallon. Compared with last year’s price for the same date, the price is nine cents a gallon higher. Week over week, crude oil prices gained less than $2 a barrel as of Friday.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil for May delivery traded up about 1.5% late Monday morning to $64.04, while Brent for June delivery traded at $70.94, up about 0.8%. The price differential (spread) between front-month WTI and Brent crude is now around $6.90 a barrel, about 10 cents a barrel closer together than a week ago.