Energy Economy

Gas Prices See Fourth Consecutive Weekly Rise

For the fourth week in a row, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline climbed, after a string of nine consecutive weeks of increasingly lower prices. Monday’s national average was $1.96 a gallon, up by 5.5 cents week over week.

The lowest prices in the country have risen to an average of around $1.60 as of Monday morning. Gas prices still average below $2.00 a gallon in 35 states, down from 39 last week.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil traded up by nearly 2.4% Monday morning at $34.05 a barrel, after closing Friday at $33.25. International benchmark Brent crude traded up about 0.9% at $36.44. WTI has added nearly $2.50 a barrel in the past four trading sessions

The average cost at the most expensive 10% of stations stands at $2.77 per gallon, up 11 cents week over week, while the lowest 10% average $1.51 per gallon, up 10 cents. The median U.S. price is $1.89 per gallon, 10 cents higher than last week and about seven cents lower than the national average.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, commented, “Average gasoline prices across the U.S. continue to recover as more motorists take back to the roads as states relax previous shelter-in-place orders and begin filling their tanks, driving demand to continue rising. Since demand is a major ingredient in what drives gasoline prices and demand is likely to continue to rebound, it is also pushing the price of both crude oil and gas prices higher.”

DeHaan added, “Unfortunately, thus far, refiners have started to input more crude oil into their refineries, but there has been some lag as refiners remain cautious on flooding the market with unwanted products. As long as COVID-19 cases continue to drop over time and provinces re-open, I suspect it is only a matter of time before the average price hits the $2 per gallon mark again- which could happen as early as this week.”

The five states where drivers are paying the most for a gallon of gas are Hawaii ($3.50), California ($2.88), Washington ($2.41), Oregon ($2.37) and Nevada ($2.33).

The five states where gas is cheapest are Mississippi ($1.58), Arkansas ($1.61), Oklahoma ($1.62), Alabama ($1.63) and Missouri ($1.63).

Compared to last month, the national average is up by more than seven cents per gallon, and compared to last year, prices are down about $0.85 per gallon.

The situation in the crude oil futures market continues to improve for producers. For motorists, the gap with the year-ago price of gas is narrowing but remains substantial. Forecasts for demand have been rising, but much depends on how successful the country is in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

The pandemic has changed what Americans buy in many ways, including gasoline.